Light the Night

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW WILL COVER TOPICS THAT MIGHT BE TRIGGERING, SO PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION. TOPICS OF DISCUSSION INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: GANG-RELATED VIOLENCE, RAPE, SUICIDE, ETC. (It is in no way as graphic as Hollywood productions, but it highlighted the very real issues that occur in real life.)

I started this a while back and finished it already. Yet took my precious time like always to review this. It mostly had to do with the fact that I wanted to step away to analyze it fully before diving in. It was really emotionally draining in some sense, but also quite impressive in other ways. The reason why I didn’t start until all parts were released was because I didn’t want to be left hanging. The second reason? I usually try to stay away from highly popular shows because they often lead to disappointment. I was glad I was proven wrong this time. (If you’re interested, check out my thread on Twitter. Obviously, some opinions have changed. However, those were some thoughts I had when I was watching.)

First off, I initially thought that this was produced by Netflix from the get-go, but I was wrong. When I went on my usual information hunting journey, I found out that they started it to be broadcasted by TVBS. Netflix only jumped in after seeing how high quality the overall production was. It was indeed impressive from the cast, the setting, and the costumes. Then I saw Ruby’s name on the producers’ list, so it made sense. Her productions are usually of high quality and she tries to aim for the best. The collaboration this time was equally successful.

Main Cast:

  • Ruby Lin (林心如) as Luo Yu Nong (羅雨儂) / Rose (蘿絲). The manager of Hikari, also Sue’s best friend. Rose was considered a wild child by traditional standards and she continued to walk her path as she traveled on her journey of life. She wasn’t perfect and never claimed to be so. She did what she thought was right and go from there. Since young, she was impulsive and obnoxious. In some ways, she was very optimistic about life—regardless of how she always got punished for her behaviors—and wanted to live to the fullest. That also included diving all in in the name of love. That continued to be one of her fatal flaws later on. However, it had evolved to a different level. After experiencing different turbulences, she became jaded, no longer naive about certain things. She learned some major lessons from the harsh reality. However, the most consistent thing about her was she was never a pushover. She stood up for herself and for others. It was a flame in her that refused to extinguish completely, regardless of how much it had gotten her into trouble. What others thought of her was a different story, and that was something she couldn’t control. And perhaps it was because of her headstrong nature and her unrelenting spirit that made others suspect her or misunderstand her. It had been a while now since I last watched Ruby in a series. I meant, I knew she had projects and followed her. I also placed the past dramas on the list, but it wasn’t really my priority to watch them. Then I got busy, so yeah, just didn’t feel like back-watch those. Anyway, this role of Ruby was different from her typical goody-two-shoes from previous mainland dramas. So, I liked it. She was a gray area character, and that was what made me stuck with her throughout. At times, she seemed too softhearted, letting so many people get away with things, but she was so resilient. She just kept on moving along, taking everything life was tossing at her. I thought this was one of the challenging roles for Ruby. It might seem normal for some people, but she had been taking similar roles when she was still in China. So, it was about time she worked with a different one. Some of the past roles, even if she had seemed cruel, the writers seemed to justify her actions too much, and it had the opposite effect on me. This one? They just told the stories and let the viewers decide.
  • Yo Yang (楊祐寧) as Pan Wen Cheng (潘文成) / Cheng Ge (成哥). Team Leader of the Homicide Department. Wen Cheng was an unknown for the longest time. Considering the time and environment he was in, there were tricks he had to pull to deal with a certain group. However, for the most part, he seemed serious about his work, with a dash of the humorous side. He was one of the best, hence being able to make it to the other side. Despite his having to deal with everyday danger because of his job, I felt he was a safer character to support than the majority of the male characters in here. It was mostly because there was no never-ending soap revolving around him, unlike others. He was a straightforward person and spoke his mind when it came to things. (Of course, I excluded situations where he had to conceal information because of cases, since that was different.) The writers teased a possible controversial relationship between him and Rose. After the corruption case that involved several police and/or law enforcement officers being arrested, it seemed there was a change of pace, a burden lifting from his shoulder. He even asked Rose out on a date (as he had jokingly said—or was he serious?). They (the production team) even did some flashback sequences of their past interactions, trying to tie their relationship up and showing how far they had come since the beginning of the series. However, in the end, it was just a teaser because he soon went on his way again and it was done away. I didn’t mind that he had to resort to some tactics to deal with the suspects at times because the corruption case was really big and involved a lot of major players. However, I found it hypocritical that he criticized Rose for wanting to cover for Hana later on. Rose was right to call him out on it. It was like, who was he to judge her? He accepted the bribe and joined forces with the corrupted officials. (Yes, it was a halfway compromise to solve the current situation and buy him some time to dig deeper, but some people do not know that, so on the surface, he was a sellout.) This was my first time watching him—although I know who he is. He did very well and was not disappointing at all, for me.
  • Cheryl Yang (楊謹華) as Su Qing Yi (蘇慶儀) / Sue (蘇). The owner of Hikari, also Rose’s best friend. On the surface, Sue was the perfect person, a supporting friend, a gentle and kind soul who would only know how to smile and say nice words to everyone. However, behind that masquerade, there was a lot to be explored. It wasn’t just because of the love triangles either that made things messy. Because if anyone wanted to be technical, Jiang Han did break up with Rose first before pursuing Sue. Yet, her perfect image was the complete opposite when the story unfolded even more. Not talking about how she had to smile and interact with her customers during working hours here, because, duh, she was a hostess, so she had to play the role—just like everyone else. What I meant was her never-ending deception, even among her so-called friends. Or perhaps, she never treated them like friends in the first place, but always someone she could use as a convenience for her circumstances. After the truth about her past came out (having been raped by her stepfather and then coping with the aftermath and much more), I sympathized with her and understood her insecurities and how guarded she was toward others in general. However, I didn’t like it when she targeted other victims too. I’m not saying it was her job to fight for all victims or put the weight on her shoulders to right all wrongs or something. She had suffered enough. She deserved a future of happiness and much more. However, the least she could have done was not becoming those who had harmed her in the past as well. Sure, that was a realistic pattern with how victims becoming the perpetrators, but I just didn’t like it. Her past had haunted her, so she was cautious around others, so be cautious. Yet she had to say those words to Hana after Hana was raped. (Like Hana said during that conversation with Sue, she felt assaulted all over again after hearing Sue say those words to her). In some ways, Sue had become exactly like her mom (ironically), not caring for anyone but herself. That was just one example among all of those others. Yet, I can’t sympathize with her completely. Perhaps, she was such a master manipulator that still managed to keep her reputation intact—regardless of what she had done. Acting? Cheryl was awesome. I never doubted her. She was one of the reasons I started watching too—aside from seeing Ruby and Esther on the cast list initially. I liked Cheryl since watching Angel Lover, and that had been years ago, lol. Even if I don’t actively follow every single drama of hers but watching her advance forward to the next stage was fascinating over the years. This was another challenge for her and she nailed it.
  • Rhydian Vaughan (鳳小岳) as Jiang Han (江瀚). A screenwriter for the local TV station and then was let go. Rose’s lover, later ex-lover. Sue’s secret lover, then later ex-lover. Basically, an all-around player yet was redeemed later just because. He was charming indeed, so it was easy to carry on with his womanizing ways. I understood the angle of the story, but I found him pretentious in a lot of ways. Not picking on the plot, since it did make sense why people loved him. However, I was actually in the minority who found him hard to like. It might have to do with the beginning where he was trying to write and putting on classical music at the same time. It attempted to show he had class and all but made him unrelatable to me. Like it was super cliche to expect writers to draw inspiration from classics or enjoy some glass of fancy wine or whatever else. When the orphanage story arc came into play, I knew redemption was around the corner for him. It explained a lot about his insecurities and how he didn’t think he deserved a normal life, thus always moving on to the next target. It made sense, but I still didn’t like that the writers were drawing us in by sympathizing with him in that way. (Hey, I gave Sue hell too, so don’t expect me to hold back for Pretty Boy over here.) What was more, I thought it was just giving him a great excuse for behaving the way that he did and giving him a license to hurt those people because of his insecurities. But what I didn’t expect was for him to die. It was a shocker. Perhaps, that was why they wanted to redeem him? So, his death would be tragic as it was? Like one more step and he was back together with Sue kind of thing? Because yes, I was expecting him to reunite with Sue as well. The writers had us good all right. Once again, I didn’t expect the characters to be perfect because everyone in here had gone through messy situations throughout. That was life. But I just didn’t like his type of character. The actor? This was actually my first time watching him, although I knew who he is. He did his part all right.
  • Derek Chang (張軒睿) as He Yu En (何予恩). A college student who liked Sue and dated her for a while and then got dumped. I initially felt bad for him but eventually just got really annoyed with him. Then was super annoyed with him. He sure played the victim nicely because, on the surface, it looked like he was used and tossed aside after Sue was done with her game YET it wasn’t so. It wasn’t exactly so. Even if Sue was manipulating the situation and testing him with some scenario, it showed that he wasn’t ready for the responsibility, yet acted all pitiful afterward. It was all right that he wasn’t ready. He was probably too impulsive. It was his first time falling in love, after all. However, what took it to another level was how he fled the scene and then later acted like Sue was the heartless one. When he regretted it and wanted another chance and she said no, he continued to pester her and disrupted her life even more. So, I found him unforgivable regardless of his intention or whatever else later. At least, he got a second chance to move on and start over later as he learned and grew throughout, unlike some other characters. Derek? I never really watched his shows before, lol. Even if I made it a point to put it on my list. I do like his real-life personality or at least, the one we could see during promos. But I found him genuine and likable. As for his acting in here, I found him convincing for the role and contributed his part.
  • Esther Liu (劉品言) as Li Shu Hua (李淑華) / Hana (花子). Rose’s prison mate and then later friend. Hana seriously had a very tragic life. Well, most in here did. Yet hers seemed to never end. It was like life was telling her that she made one mistake when she was young and naïve and would always live with the consequences regardless of how she already paid for that past (through imprisonment) or having learned a valuable lesson. It made sense how things had turned out later, but it wasn’t any less frustrating to see her going through so much. She was pimped out by her so-called boyfriend and ended up assaulting him when she found out the truth (of his intention). After she served out her sentence, Rose helped her get back on her feet by offering her a job at Hikari—to much of Sue’s objection. That also fueled Sue’s dislike for Hana even more. So, when Hana was abducted and raped, it was high time Sue went out of her way to get rid of Hana for good. Too bad Sue’s plan didn’t work since Rose went to Hana’s hometown to search for her and brought her back. (Sometimes, it made me wonder if Rose hadn’t brought Hana back, would the other events occur? Or eventually, it would anyway, because of how Sue had racked up too many enemies along the way?) Regardless of those what-ifs, I thought Esther had gone a long way since her awkward performance in Westside Story. Her complex character helped, but if she wasn’t able to deliver, it wouldn’t have worked out. Her portrayal allowed Hana’s many sides to come out, like her carefree side, her deeply wounded side, etc. Interestingly and somewhat irrelevant, but after all these years, I finally realized that Esther is left-handed, lol. I couldn’t believe how blind I was before, lol.
  • Cherry Hsieh (謝瓊煖) as Ji Man Ru (季滿如) / Ah Ji (阿季). Used to work at the same club as Sue, then later became a hostess under Sue (because the previous owner transferred the ownership to Sue). Then eventually inherited a portion of Hikari as co-owner. I hated her from the start. Yes, I used “hate” and not just the typical annoyance. Regardless of how she claimed Sue had stolen her man or whatever else, I felt her tactics were really low and despicable. Well, some of the details didn’t come out until later. But I didn’t like how she was taunting others one after another. I knew she had a sharp tongue at times and didn’t expect her to be perfect. But it was just too much. So, the redeeming arch for her was interesting and was enough to wrap up the show. Seeing from her point of view at times helped. What I found interesting was how she was showing attitude to the majority in here yet there was a sense of tolerance toward Hana at various points. Yes, she chided Hana too but there was a subtle difference in her attitude. Like that one time Hana stole her food while they were chatting and eating at this one stall. There was a trace of concern or gentle chiding, not the typical sharp words she used toward others. (Of course, like the other hostesses, she had to show her smiles and all during working hours, but I meant off work.) I guess in some ways, she was a more predictable and less scary enemy than some others? Yes, she did pull the despicable moves, but she did reveal who she was behind the scenes with the rest of them, unlike the facade some were still operating on.
  • Nikki Hsieh (謝欣穎) as Huang Bai He (黃百合) / Yuri (百合). A hostess at Hikari. She seemed uninterested in the rest of the hostesses at the beginning. It wasn’t that she didn’t care for them. But it was like she just wanted to do the deed and be done for the day (or night). It was later revealed, her sole focus was on her relationship with her boyfriend, Henry. Interestingly, they were in the same business. However, that was only a part of the puzzle. They actually met when their parents set them up on a blind date. Both showed their disinterest but went anyway. Yet Yuri was later won over by Henry’s charm and his personality in general. What she didn’t realize was his ulterior motive. It was blurry whether he truly cared for her or was just toying with her. But he was indeed good with his con, luring her in completely. It wasn’t until she caught him with his lover that she finally took action against stopping him. In regard to her, I could only compliment Nikki’s performance, not the character itself. It wasn’t because it was unrelatable but I felt she only took action to stop Henry because of the betrayal toward her, NOT because she cared about anyone being harmed by the drugs being spread around. (She did tell him to stop before she found out how involved he was and was just using her YET she only wanted him to stop because she feared for his safety and not mankind in general.) It was like her personality seemed to project from the start. She just didn’t care about other people’s problems, but wanted to focus on herself. There was nothing wrong with minding her own business and focusing on living her life. But I think it would be giving her too much credit by saying she stopped a certain someone. Although I understood where she came from, I just didn’t agree with her. Especially how she said Rose loved herself more hence letting go of Jiang Han. That was general observation because Rose did struggle and sink very deep before finally pulling herself back up. How could Yuri say it so lightly like that? Or perhaps it was because she just didn’t understand because she wasn’t around. Regardless, I didn’t like the air that she was projecting, like she was somehow superior in her choice and her dedication to love. What about Hana who had given up everything and lost herself in her past relationship? Loving yourself is not wrong. Why make it like one must dedicate one’s life toward one person to be considered worthy of love?
  • Puff Kuo (郭雪芙) as Wang Ai Lian (王愛蓮) / Aiko (愛子). A hostess at Hikari. She was revealed to be a college student, specifically Yu En’s classmate. A side story revealed that she actually was a delivery girl who stumbled into the club one day when she was waiting to get some papers signed. A client of the club thought she was a hostess, but she clarified that she was just making a delivery. However, that client continued with his antics, not letting off. He said if she drink this glass of wine, he would reward her. She asked to confirm before emptying the glass. That was when Rose and Sue recruited her. They recognized her charm (and alcohol tolerance level, lol) and persuaded her to use that opportunity to earn some money for college. She agreed shortly after a private conversation in the back room. That was how she ended up being one of the hostesses. At first, I didn’t like her at all, because I felt her bitterness annoying. It was all right that she didn’t like Sue for whatever reason. However, I felt it had a lot to do with Yu En and I was sick and tired of the cat fight formula. It wasn’t worth it anyway. However, it was later revealed that her family issues had a lot to do with her attitude. One of the reasons she accepted Rose and Sue’s offer was a subtle way to rebel as well. She found their (her parents’) hypocritical nature sickening. That also transformed into her hatred towards Sue. She indeed had her own hand in causing a lot of complications with various characters. However, she somehow overcame her past demons and had a fresh start. That could be called a happy ending on her end. This was my very first time watching Puff, although I knew who she is. It was just that I wasn’t that interested in her past dramas. I was glad to see her part of the cast in here and finally able to see her performance.

Co-starring:

  • Cammy Chiang (江宜蓉) as Lin Ya Wen (林雅文) / Yaya (雅雅). The accountant of Hikari and later become a hostess as well. Mixed feelings at times. I felt she was just there, not contributing to the plot one way or another. Sure, she was the accountant and was important in her own way. But it was more like they needed an additional person, that was all. She seemed to have a good relationship with Sue—or at least, admired Sue for who she was, so she also thought Rose killed Sue, hence the hostility at one point. I understood her suspicions but felt like she had also fallen for those on the surface/ at face value thing rather dig deeper. No one could blame her, most others in here also had their suspicions but seriously. Or that was just to create more tension with the way things were. She did apologize later though, so at least she was aware of the effect she had on others.
  • Hu Wei Jie (胡瑋杰) as Ding Jia Hao (丁家豪) / Xiao Hao (小豪). A waiter of Hikari. He appeared often but didn’t have his own side story. He was just there at times to help others and back them up as necessary, considering what kind of business they were running and if they could run into trouble. He was an additional character and had his humorous side too, possibly to cope. But he never took sides one way or another. Or at least, he seemed neutral and was doing his job for the most part. He did mingle with them at times but didn’t participate in those disagreements. At one point, I actually suspected he was the killer. Yes, because the character you usually do not pay attention to or seemed to blend into the background were usually revealed as the actual culprit later. Also, it was said the person who was able to carry the body through a part of the wood must be a man. So yeah. I thought at least, he was part of the team.
  • Nash Zhang (章廣辰) as Li Jian Da (李健達) / Ah Da (阿達). I thought he was just a funny sidekick. I was so wrong. That was sure a good twist to the show. As if it wasn’t already wrapped in layers and layers of secrets with the other major characters, they had to spin a new one with his character. It was ironically tragic that he initially started out with great ambition and all, wanting to be a good cop. He was timid at first, but learned to adapt later. Considering how having a dream was one thing and going through the actual routines of being a cop was different. Yet, he just went from one extreme to the other. His being in cahoot with the rest of the corrupted officials could be because he was too afraid, not wanting to be eliminated by them hence staying quiet. But the whole killing of Jiang Han? Wow, that took some major nerve. Because that was so scary. How could he just do it like that? Like it was nothing? So, yes, he was convincing in his act all right. Even Wen Cheng didn’t want to believe it. How could he? Not because he looked down on Ah Da. But it was because he knew Ah Da and his dream, wanting to be the best cop, etc.
  • Dora Hsieh (謝雨芝) as Yan Qiao Ru (顏巧如) / Mei Mei (妹妹). A police officer. She was actually one of the cops that believed in her duty and tried to keep by the codes. However, she still had a lot to learn, even after helping to uncover one of the biggest corruption cases. She obviously had great analytical skills and good instincts for her job. If there was a sequel or spin-off focusing on the police side, she could be a major character. Not saying I want the creators of the show to stretch the theme too much. But that was a possibility.
  • Jim Liu (劉敬) as Wu Zi Wei (吳子維). Rose’s adopted son, Sue’s son. He was seen as the good son who worked hard in school and helped his mom do chores when he had time. Perhaps, it was because of the conflict between his parents that forced him to mature earlier than the typical students in his age bracket. At times, he showed frustration toward their conflict, which was understandable. Being stuck between parents was the worst. He tried to maintain a balance between bonds with both parents. Later, he learned that the parents who raised him since little wasn’t really his parents, and his godmother was his actual mother. It was a tragedy. At least, they had a good relationship before his mother passed away. However, he was forced to go with his biological father (who didn’t even deserve the title). He promised to return later to Rose’s side when he was of legal age and could make his own decisions. I sure hope he wouldn’t turn out like his so-called father. Even if in a few years, anything could happen. Most lied to him regarding the real version of what happened between his parents to protect him. It mostly had to do with the fact that they didn’t want the trial to drag out and many details coming out, causing even more complications. It was also because of how much it had affected him after Rose was accused of murder. This one was even more serious. How could he bear it when it wasn’t his fault at all? Not to mention, it seemed super ironic how things turned out that led to the final result. Because Rose went on TV to talk about her past prison term and clarified some stuff, hence tanking her husband’s company, which led to him selling off Zi Wei to the monster. Aside from all that frustration, I thought he did a good job at various points to portray his struggles.

Guest-starring:

  • Wallace Huo (霍建華) as Ma Tian Hua (馬天華) / Hinoki (檜木). A gangster, Sue’s sworn brother. He appeared around the end of the second part. Sue went to prison to visit him and manipulate him to target Rose after he was released. Her plan was halfway successful until Wen Cheng convinced him to stand down and promise to investigate the matter thoroughly. What about Wallace? No complaints about his performance, obviously. However, as a major fan, I greedily wanted more scenes of him. In the grand scheme of things, it was about enough. But like I said, as his fan, I wanted more. Like maybe just a little more about how he crossed paths with Sue and how he trusted Sue so much. Yes, I got the dialogue version but needed a little more detail. Because it was so unbelievable that he risked so much for Sue. Not to mention how it was strange seeing Sue having some connection with him. I know, I know, she was the master manipulator and had a lot of connections. Yet, a little more background story would help.
  • Joe Cheng (鄭元暢) as Wu Shao Qiang (吳少強). Rose’s husband, later ex-husband. He was the definition of people who changed. I meant everyone changes as they go through life, but his change puzzled me the most. I guessed the toll of it all got to him. However, it was indeed heartbreaking to see how much he changed. He not only fled the scene during the most crucial moment but also left Rose to take the fall for him (i.e. going to prison). Then he dared to play victim after so many years, saying how she was the difficult one. What in the world? But whatever helped him sleep at night, I guess. They tried to redeem him or at least made us reconsider him by seeing how well he treated his son. Yet, who was he kidding? Handing the poor kid to the wolf just like that? Maybe it was more realistic that he wasn’t so linear or one-note with his character and how complicated some situations were. Yet I still didn’t care for him. Hey, at least, he got his business back. He would be fine. Maybe then he could buy an in-house, submissive wife who would cooperate better with his grand schemes than oh say, Rose. Well, Rose loved him and trusted him so much, hence even ending up taking the fall for him in the first place. Yet she woke up after that betrayal, so that was what he was upset over, not having a typical lamb to listen to all his lies anymore. Hey, she never said she was goody-two-shoes. Why was he bitter? Joe? Okay, he goes by Joseph now, but I still haven’t changed my tags yet. But I haven’t seen anything of his since You Light Up My Star and that seemed a long time ago, lol. He’s doing pretty well with various projects and was just a guest in here. His acting was convincing. But, obviously, I can’t like his character. If he had just outright admitted he was a terrible person, I would have forgiven him, or at least cut him some slacks. Yet he continued to justify his behaviors and paved Rose out to be a terrible person. (Congrats, somehow, he made Jiang Han seem more likable. Because at least Jiang Han admitted who he was at various points.)
  • Jacob Wang (王柏傑) as Hong Li Heng (洪立亨) / Henry (亨利). A host at Ciao Club. Yuri’s boyfriend. He was smooth-talking all right, being able to con anyone he wanted to. I wasn’t sure if he was a natural conversationist/charmer or if that had come with experience. What was his true personality in all of that? Did he really trust Henry or was he also conning him? It was hard to tell and I thought that was a good bit to leave it open-ended. That scene where Yuri went to prison to visit Hao Zi, it seemed like they had their official stare down and all. It was funny how they were fighting over whom actually cared for. Well, he (Hao Zi) didn’t really say it, but if looks could killed. Yuri actually said that Henry cared for her because he had given her his house key. Was that the answer? Or was that just part of the long con? Like I said, it was hard to tell with him. And it was funny how the writers tried to humanize Henry but he wasn’t any better than Hana’s ex-boyfriend who pimped her out. Even if Henry didn’t pimp anyone out, he used his good looks and charms to lure in girls to transport and/or hide drugs for him. So, how was he any better? He was just using them. Even if he had a change of heart with Yuri, he won’t get the glowing reputation in my book.
  • Xiu Jie Kai (修杰楷) as Ge Zhi Hao (葛志浩) / Hao Zi (浩子). A prosecutor. It was later revealed that he was also Henry’s lover. That was the sole reason why Henry trusted him so much and never thought that he would betray him (Henry). I haven’t watched him for ages now. I still follow him on social media, lol. It’s just that I haven’t gotten back into watching some of the recent shows and sort of not wanting to back-watch some stuff. Yet his acting was still solid. He was creepy all right, but also showed a different side when he was with Henry. I totally saw it when they drove to the seaside together and how Henry had placed a soda can on his cheek. It was a subtle, intimate gesture that tipped us off early on. Because if they were merely collaborating on the business front, would he have accepted the gesture just like that? He also showed obvious jealousy toward Yuri when Henry brought it up (aka admitting that Yuri was kinda cute).
  • Li Li Ren (李李仁) as Xu Guo Biao (徐國彪) / Biao Ge (彪哥). A local bully, Hana’s past customer. Later bumped into Hana at Hikari and was kicked out for causing trouble. He gathered his minions to kidnap Hana and raped her. He was later caught and put in prison for his crime. This was probably Li Li Ren’s lowest role. So, he wasn’t winning any points from anyone. Maybe possibly acting-wise, though. Because yes, he was really hateful and convincing with the character.
  • Kagami Tomohisa (加賀美智久) as Nakamura Masao (中村正男). A Japanese customer of Hikari. He liked Sue and wanted to marry her, bringing her back to Japan with him.
  • Qu Zhong Heng (屈中恆) as Sun Ming Zhang (孫明章). Wen Cheng’s superior. At first, I thought he was a character created to keep the comedy alive while the rest of the plot leaned toward the much darker side. Yet, I was wrong. I was glad too because it was really a shocker. He was much more involved with the overall plot than one could predict. He held the key to a crucial part of the plot, after all.
  • Ah Ken as Lin Yu Feng (林裕峰) / Feng Ge (峰哥). A producer, Jiang Han’s superior.
  • Lorene Jen (任容萱) as Xiao Wan Ru (蕭婉柔). A famous actress, the main actress of a TV show that Jiang Han was writing for. She and Jiang Han had a brief affair and were found out. Luckily for her, she wasn’t punished severely for it. She only had to stay away from Jiang Han and listen. Yet was that something she wanted? I guess that sort of came with the price of wanting fame and having a relationship with the producer. This was actually my first time watching Lorene, although, I follow her and meant to watch some of her other works. Maybe I would go back to it now, lol.
  • Chris Wu (吳慷仁) as Liao Bao Long (劉寶龍) / Bao Bao (寶寶). The owner of Sugar Club, a rival of Hikari Club. I couldn’t believe the day that I see Chris in such a role. NO, not judging based on the environment he was in (running a club) because every character in here had their own complex background. However, usually, he would portray some prince in shining armor (regardless of background) or at least some notable role. This was considered out of the box type of role for me when watching him perform in here. Because he took it to the next level and was quite convincing in his performance and brought a different mood to the show as an overall. Was his character cunning and despicable at one point? Yes. It didn’t top some of the other scumbags and could be redeemed (because he was persuaded by the money). All in all, another successful performance.
  • Jean Wang (王靜瑩) as Su Mei Yu (蘇美玉). Sue’s mother. Probably the worst mother of the century. I blamed her for everything. Seducing someone else’s husband wasn’t bad enough. (People somehow usually excuse cheaters and homewreckers in movies/ TV shows, so I won’t dwell on that here.) Yet, somehow, she managed to top it off by accusing her daughter of “seducing her man.” By “seducing”, she meant “laying in bed and staying silent while the monster raped her daughter” because if she had said anything, he would leave her. Spoilers alert, he left her anyway. Also, she kicked her daughter out to fend for herself and then had the audacity later to come asking for money and much more (because she was the mother and deserved all that her daughter worked hard for after going through hell and back). I don’t know why I was surprised anyway since she allowed the other thing to happen, so what else wouldn’t she do? If anyone wanted to defend her for saying she was scared, he might harm her and her daughter even more (aka killing them both). At least they tried, okay? And I wasn’t convinced she was scared for hers and her daughter’s life per se, she just kept quiet so he wouldn’t leave her (like said above). The story was drawn straight from real-life situations, all right. Yet it was equally frustrating and maddening. It was even more frustrating that nothing happened to her later, and she got to reap from helping the rapist snatch the kid away from Rose. But was that supposed to be more realistic with life stuff? Because it was beyond infuriating. (What was more, I started watching this after a certain real-life situation similar unfolded, so imagine the level of livid I was feeling when that scene rolled around. Not going to go into specifics, but it had to do with the theme of having your child snatched away from you by your rapist because he was so powerful and wealthy. In the story’s case, Rose had to deal with it, but if it was Sue, then the situation would be the exact same thing. I knew it was a major coincidence since the location and the time of the TV show and all, but it sure hit me hard in the face with the theme being addressed. Yeah, the writers couldn’t predict the future, but stuff like that happened a lot in the past, so they just drew from real-life situations.)
  • Yi Zheng (伊正) as Zhu Wen Xiong (朱文雄). Su Mei Yu’s lover, Sue’s stepfather. Scumbag all around and proved to be so throughout. I was just glad they didn’t skirt around the issue and redeem him. They hid his true animal nature from his son just to spare the kid from further trauma. Yet it was so infuriating. Like the writers had to include an extra layer of madness with tragedy. Yi Zheng probably ended up in the group that was most hated after the series, lol. I swear, no way was he going to get out of this one looking good—regardless.

Others:

  • Greg Hsu (許光漢) as Yu En’s classmate.
  • Shen Meng Sheng (沈孟生) as Luo Chen Sheng (羅春生). Rose’s father.
  • Moon Wang (王月) as Luo Xie Xue Ling (羅謝雪齡). Rose’s mother.
  • James Wen (温昇豪) as Luo Li Nong (羅立農). Rose’s older brother.
  • June Tsai (六月) as Luo Yi Nong (羅伊儂). Rose’s older sister.
  • Ma Nian Xian (馬念先) as Cai Huo Wang (蔡火旺). The owner of an izakaya.
  • Heaven Hai (海裕芬) as Ke Xiu Zhi (柯秀枝). The owner of a barbershop.
  • Hans Chung (鍾承翰) as Zheng Kai Wen (鄭凱文) / Kevin. The manager of Ciao.
  • Chen Bo Zheng (陳博正) as Hana’s father. A somewhat cute old parent vibe role for him. I felt he was the only one who represented unconditioned love in here. He was proud of Hana. It was obvious with his attitude and words whenever she came home or talked about her to Rose that one time. Sure, Hana did hide some stuff from him, but he never expected her to bring home tons of money for him or drew out all these outrageous conditions, unlike other parents. He was just glad she found success in her work (wine expert—as he was told) and was living her life comfortably in such a competitive city.
  • Fan Rui Jun (范瑞君) as Aiko’s mother. A college professor.
  • JC Lin (林哲熹) as one of the students that found the victim’s body.
  • Edison Song (宋柏緯) as one of the students that found the victim’s body.
  • Ying Cai Ling (應采靈) as Zhang Yi Fen (張逸芬). The dean of the orphanage.
  • Vivian Hsu (徐若瑄) as Qiong Fang (瓊芳). The previous owner of Hikari. It was nice to see Vivian in here portraying a guest role.
  • Austin Lin (林柏宏) as the senior of the magazine club.
  • Tang Zhi Wei (湯志偉) as Li Si Jing (李思敬). The host of the TV show who interviewed Rose.
  • Ray Chang (張睿家) as Hana’s ex-boyfriend. He was another scumbag of the show. His crime was pimping out his girlfriend for money. Ray wanted to show up for this? (LOL!) Yeah, I know, not everyone could be a hero, but these people sure made some sacrifices to be part of the production all right. (I know it’s not supposed to be funny, but I couldn’t help it. If anyone watched True Love 365, he was the main lead and paired off with Joanne, so it was interesting this time he was kind of, sort of associated with Esther at one point in here. The roles were total opposites, but tragic. Hey, he wasn’t that innocent, goody-two-shoes in True Love 365 either, but bad attitude versus scumbag is all I’m saying.)

Likes:

  • Music. Definitely the music. The majority were remixes of classics. However, the production team put a new twist on it and allow us to enjoy those songs again in a different setting.
  • Cast. Regardless of liking them or not, I thought the cast did really well and coordinated nicely to make everything work.
  • Wallace and Ruby’s reunion. I know, I know, they’re married and see each other every day. But they haven’t been in a drama together for a while now. It was interesting to see them on screen together once again and on the opposite side this time. The fact that they weren’t romantically involved made it different. Maybe they needed a break from the mushy on-screen scenes? (Joking, lol.)
  • The pieces of the puzzle spread throughout the drama. I liked how the story was told and the sequences that allowed us to discover various characters’ background and their relationships throughout that had led to that point. Also, the mystery around the body was found and finally revealing it. At various points, they (the writers) teased the audience as to whom to body belonged to, even right down to the last minute. It was intriguing to watch and guess. After it was revealed, I even suspected that everyone at Hikari had a part in killing Sue and they covered for one another. Yes, that extreme. Because it was like everyone had a grudge against her deep down. Well, almost everyone. So, it wasn’t too much to say everyone had a hand in it.
  • Plot driven versus character driven. Yes, we knew who the major characters were. However, I felt unlike the majority of the productions nowadays, adding length just because they wanted to add more screen time for characters and stretching out to the max, this was actually plot driven. The plot did focus on some characters versus others. However, it didn’t linger to the point of unbearable. Like I said in the previous point, the pieces of the puzzle here and there revealed itself slowly but had always followed the timeline. It allowed us to explore the different characters and how it linked with the main plot and then finally wrapping it up. It didn’t stretch unnecessarily. Did I hate some part of the plot? Yes, I did. Because I hated seeing some of the tragedies the characters went through. Yet the plot continued to move on, allowing the length and pace to be just about right.
  • The characters. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a favorite character in here. Yes, I said it. It was strange how it seemed I defended Rose at various points or disliked certain characters at one point or another, but I never had a favorite character. Perhaps it was because the cast worked together well along with the plot that didn’t allow for camera hog moments too much that had caused the effect. Perhaps, I would say I liked the cast as an overall because the whole team had worked together so well to make it happen. I liked that each of the major characters had their moment or own story, but it didn’t overshadow over the others. It was just the right mix. Much credit to the writers for not forcing us to like one character or another through different justifications, but just laid out the plot and let us come to our own conclusions. (As I said previously.)

Dislikes:

  • The truth about Sue wasn’t revealed. Okay, I get it. She’s dead. No need to drag it out. Not to mention the majority of the major characters already understood who she was as a person and what kind of hypocrite she was. However, the rest of the public did not know. I guess they were trying to send a message that it did not matter anymore. Yet, her action affected so many people. How could she be praised and remembered as a sweet and gentle person, just like that? Her cunning and cruel side were never revealed. It was like letting her off because she was dead. Like redeeming a character just because. Sure, no one could do anything anymore. But it seemed to say one could be the worst possible yet could be forgiven or all the harm they did could just be erased?
  • Zhu Wen Xiong wasn’t exposed for the scumbag that he was. I knew and understood why they wanted to protect Zi Wei, not wanting him to find out the truth of his existence (and all the public backlash with having to carry that for the rest of his life, even if it wasn’t his fault). However, allowing Zhu Wen Xiong to get away with everything was just messed up. In some ways, it was more realistic (considering the circumstances) but I hated it. If they had gone to court, he would have won with all his money and all. It was probably sending a message like money would always win over the truth.
  • Rose’s whole family. Please just throw them all in the bin. Yes, I said it. I had it with the BS about how they were family after all. Was Sue a goody-two-shoes and/or perfect child? Nope. She ran away from home, after all the mishaps she got into. Or more like her father kicked her out after having enough. Sure, I got it, all parents wanted their kids to behave and life was harsh if she didn’t study or whatever. Yet at least, be consistent. Her mother loved her yet wasn’t able to do anything about it (like changing her father’s mind about things) and I didn’t blame her because it was obvious he controlled the household and whatever he said was the final word. The problem I had with him was how he and the others just expected her to bring home money or help them in general just because she was successful at that point. Hey, who kicked her out? Can anyone keep it straight or stick with the decision? Sure, people change all the time and they could mend the family. But it was an automatic thing with them expecting Rose to chip in, NO apologies or some kind of real talk or whatever. I get it, they were busy with livelihood stuff and might not have time to dwell too much on sensitivity or talk out matters. But I felt it was too much and too one-sided to just expect Rose to step forward because they were family. Like hey, she was wrong but also she was successful now, so she must contribute regardless. Like they were never wrong, it was just Rose being wrong. It was ridiculous. Obviously, I’m talking about the characters here, NOT the actors. Because they all did well for their roles. Because I actually like James and June.

Discussions:

  • Rose and Sue’s friendship. Were they ever really friends? I had so many questions. I understood how the foundation was paved and we saw how they’d overcome different obstacles together. Yet, were they really the best of friends, or were they just sticking together because of circumstances? I understood more when pieces and bits of Sue’s past were revealed and the tragedies she went through. It had shaped her past and fed her insecurity, forcing her to be cautious of others, which she had every right to. Yet, as I said before, it was the only thing that was holding her character back and pushing it into the gray area. Sue lived in her head too much and assumed that Rose should understand her, which was uncalled for. Seriously, even if they had known each other since whenever, it was harsh to expect Rose to just know. It was ridiculous. She also assumed that Rose always wanted to be in power, hence pulling the final card with wanting to restrict Rose’s life by leaving behind those shares to the rest of the hostesses. During their last conversation, Sue said that Rose always wanted to have the upper hand each time and how Rose only helped people so they would show gratitude toward her (thus being loyal to her, specifically Hana). It was a lot of assumptions on her part. Should Rose have meddled at times? Possibly not, it wasn’t up to her to right all wrongs of the world. However, we could see that it was in Rose’s gene or something. She couldn’t just sit around seeing others suffer, so if she was able to help, to speak up, or something, she did it. Sue also seemed to blame Rose for everything that happened to her or something. Well, Rose did get her into trouble with her mom because of how they ditched class and stuff at times when they were younger. Yet she can’t just push everything onto Rose. And I seriously didn’t blame Sue for wanting to have a friend, etc. However, when she made her own decision, it was all her. Perhaps, deep down, Sue also understood it. Perhaps, she did appreciate Rose at one point, that Rose actually stuck up for her when neighbors gossiped about her family situation (more specifically her mom). Or how her classmates bullied her and Rose stuck up for her. However, those things faded as time progressed. Her own insecurities and self-loathing forced her to push all the blame onto Rose, so she didn’t have to face them. Because she admitted at one point that she was too weak, not like Rose, always doing this or that. She didn’t like that about herself. They were just too different. That big argument when they were younger said a lot. That was one of those rare times they were honest with one another, laying it all out, no filter. They argued and tossed out everything. Somehow, they ended up mending things again, even hugging and halfway arguing back to being friends again. It was childhood memories and showed they had past conflicts, but it was all part of growing up. Yet it also opened up the question I initially had. Was it because how they were so used to one another’s presence that it was hard to end the friendship after they grew up and grew apart as well? And there was another question nagging in the back of my mind. Jiang Han was right when he said that Sue was very possessive. He was possibly the last person to have a say regarding Rose or Sue (or anyone else) for that matter, considering how he wasn’t the top candidate for anyone turning to when it came to a moral compass. However, he nailed it when he said those things about Sue when he broke up with her. (Except for the last bit that had fueled Sue’s rage even more, though. That was a bad idea and had caused her to take her own revenge after she returned from the depth.) Sue was really good at masquerading. We all do it to protect ourselves. Yet, she took it to a whole new level that was disturbing. With all those issues she had with Rose, it was possibly better to just part ways. Yet somehow, she still stuck through and acted like no one should have this connection with Rose except her or something. Perhaps she didn’t realize she was a walking contradiction. Also, I felt like she was projecting major time. She said that Rose was a controlling person and things had to go her way or else. However, she didn’t realize she was the controlling one, always wanting the last word or needing things to be in her favor to be happy or satisfied. Hana and Jiang Han’s situations were good examples of those behaviors. She didn’t like Hana from the start and hated that Rose protected Hana. She had every right to worry about Hana’s lack of experience which could affect the business. But the way she hung onto that grudge made it too much. Hana lacked experience, but soon learned a lot and become a lovable hostess like the majority at Hikari. That didn’t change Sue’s mind, either. She didn’t have to force herself to interact with Hana, but it was like she hated that she was wrong and that Hana could learn and improve. It seemed like she was jealous of the friendship Rose had with Hana after having been to prison together. Like Hana had snatched her friend from her, so she went out of her way to get rid of Hana—whether in the past or present. The way it was, I swear it was almost like she had tipped that scumbag off so he could abduct and kidnap Hana and assault Hana. So, then she could swoop in to get rid of Hana once and for all. Yes, it was terrible of me to assume so, but with the level of planning and execution she had with her other schemes, I don’t think it was impossible to come to that conclusion. Sue even went to the extreme of calling Hana a dog time and time again, indicating her relationship with Rose was just that of an owner and its dog, nothing more. It was like she was saying whether or not Rose was a terrible friend, she still wanted Rose by her side, no one else could be Rose’s friend. She called Hana a dog on purpose, to degrade the latter even more, implying Hana was on a lower level than her in relations to Rose. It was a superiority complex thing. About Jiang Han? How in the world was Rose supposed to know Sue liked Jiang Han? Jiang Han also showed interest in Rose first and initiated contact after meeting Rose. To Sue, Rose was a third-party, so she had every right to snatch him back. Yet she forgot that they never had a romantic relationship in the first place, so Rose couldn’t be blamed for entering that relationship with Jiang Han. Sue was acting all like she was being considerate about not mentioning anything along the line of liking Jiang Han after learning the progress of Rose and Jiang Han’s relationship already. However, I thought they were best friends and could be honest with one another. Well, that was everyone’s initial impression too, until stories unfolded for us to see they weren’t that close, anyway. Was Rose supposed to ask? Possibly. But then again, they were able to talk about the most random stuff and even had heated debates over business decisions. So, why was it so hard to be honest about other matters? It was ridiculous. So, yes, I thought it was stretching to not talk about it at all. I don’t even remember anymore if Rose had asked Sue beforehand about the two’s relationship when Sue brought him to Hikari for the first time. I somewhat remember the answer was “a friend.” It could be a code for much more, but was Rose supposed to assume everyone Sue brought there was a romantic interest? Again, considering how straightforward Rose was and Sue knew her that long already, maybe just say it out. Don’t hold it in and then later blame the other person for not knowing how to read minds. Why am I so harsh on Sue and not Rose? I thought it was obvious the majority were against Rose if it come down to it. Like I said, she was often too outspoken and wasn’t the most “model” citizen, so people automatically assumed she was in the wrong when they heard rumors of her being the actual killer. Sue was just too pretentious for my taste. I’m not saying Sue’s death was justified, but I just thought regardless of whether she was dead or alive, she was too much. She projected the too perfect image and caused the opposite effect on me. Also, I felt that Sue just wanted Rose’s friendship when it was convenient. Like when she needed Rose for something or another, they were friends and it was all right that Rose meddle. After that, or it was something she disagreed with? Rose was considered controlling and condescending. I’m not saying she can’t establish her own boundaries because she had every right to draw her comfort zone. It was just that she kept moving the goalpost and expected Rose to abide by it. Did she help Rose with stuff too? Yes, she did. But it was like she only counted things when it was in her favor. Again, the control thing was all her, not Rose like she said. For what it mattered, I thought Rose helped her in the past because they were friends, NOT because Rose wanted some upper hand or wanted to use some gratitude thing to dangle over Sue’s head for the future. They were still considered kids at that time, who would have thought so far ahead? So, were they better off not friends? They had a lot of good memories as well as bad. The flashbacks from Rose’s perspective showed they shared almost everything (from hopes and dreams, even what they wanted with their funeral arrangements and all). That was why Rose had assumed they had a good relationship. That was also why the betrayal hurt so badly. So, Rose’s world and perspective had shattered while she tried to piece everything together again. She wasn’t perfect, but she learned from it. Unlike others who had continued to think they were never wrong.
  • Rose and Hana’s friendship. They met in prison. Hana’s loyalty to Rose was obvious, considering how Rose protected her in prison. Hana also appreciated Rose for reminding her of her value, and not allowing her to think the worst of herself. Rose helped Hana stand on her own two feet again after Hana was released. Hana was grateful for Rose’s help, for keeping in contact and reaching out, not distancing from her because both wanted to erase their rough history. Although Hana was grateful for Rose’s help, she knew Rose treated her like a friend, a human being, wanting to lift each other up because they had both been betrayed by the men they loved. Even if it was gratitude at first, Hana didn’t take it the wrong way or thought it was Rose’s way to gain some upper hand on her or try to act superior in any way. She appreciated Rose for Rose’s efforts and understood Rose just wanted to help her heal and start a new life. She used Rose’s emotional support as a source of energy to strive and thrive. She was able to leave her past behind and focus on her present. It was too bad that some of that past had caught up with her. Their friendship seemed honest and open since they met at the worst time possible. Yet that also strengthened their bond because they’d been through the worst together. Their bond up to that point made it tragic when it was revealed Hana was the real killer. I thought their friendship was done for. And yes, the confrontation was ugly and heartbreaking. Yet, after both parties calmed down, they seemed to have reached a certain level of peace. Rose even wanted to cover for Hana, not wanting to see her back in prison again. Perhaps, Rose pitied Hana, so she didn’t want to turn Hana in. She admitted to Wen Cheng that much, saying that Hana had gone through so much. Yet Hana knew too well she could not let anyone go to prison for her, nor live with it for the rest of her life like that (even if she did initially convince herself that she had no choice but to hide). Too many people had been impacted. It was indeed quite tragic how things turned out.
  • Killing off two major characters of the show. Yes, this was a shocker for me. I mean, seeing how serious it was throughout, it was inevitable that people got hurt. However, I didn’t expect them to start off by killing Sue. I initially thought she was the killer and whoever it was they revealed later would be someone who knew about Sue’s past, hence her getting rid of that person, and that was why she was missing in the present timeline. It was a clever approach because the characters were forced to deal with their past demons as well. Also, because Sue had collected so many enemies along the way, the journey to find her killer was intriguing and nerve-wracking rolled into one. I thought the writers wanted to redeem Jiang Han because they wanted to pair him off with Rose, after all. However, it took another turn, and he was also killed off. The writers sure took no mercy on the characters as they tried to cope with another tragedy.
  • Jiang Han’s betrayal. I initially thought that Jiang Han’s downfall and eventual death were due to the fact that he messed around with many people’s hearts and had caused too much pain, hence his past actions caught up with him. However, it was revealed later that he once made an oath to Rose, stating that if he ever betrayed her, he would be met with such a downfall. Whether it was true or not that the universe was listening and keeping its eyes on that oath, it was indeed a lesson for some.
  • The irony of Hana’s action. Yes, I found that tragically ironic. Hana lost it and killed Sue in a rage. When she confessed to Rose, she said that Sue was going to take Zi Wei away. Well, no one knew the future, etc. Yet Sue’s mom’s discovery regarding Zi Wei’s real identity caused everything to go into chaos, and it allowed for the scumbag to claim Zi Wei. Rose had to give up Zi Wei, regardless. If Sue was still alive and successfully framed Rose and sent Rose to prison, Zi Wei would be in Sue’s custody. However, we could bet that Wen Cheng would have found out about the scheme, anyway. So, was having Sue alive a better route? Hana was triggered, and she killed in a rage. So obviously, she wasn’t thinking. Yet it was too much.
  • Wen Cheng’s grand plan. I had a feeling that Wen Cheng was planning something else later. It was why he sent Yan Qiao Ru away for the time being. He needed to broaden his connections and plan for the future. He knew he couldn’t take down them all because of the scope of the people involved. That was why he pretended to be as power-hungry as the others. It would be ridiculous if he said he was in for the money. Power would make more sense. So they knocked out some small fishes to take the fall before going back into business. Yet, his actions said otherwise. He even told Yan Qiao Ru to trust his decisions. So, if they did a spin-off or sequel, it would focus on him trying to take down all the upper management or the whole chain. Or maybe it was implied, so there was no need for more? They could do a side movie, lol. The whole corruption within the police network reminded me so much of Black & White, though. (Some of the cast from here was also in there, lol.)

Recommended? You have to be a fan of the cast to stick it through. Or at least, one could appreciate their acting. Also, if you prefer serious productions over the typical idol dramas. The series itself is very emotionally draining and could be quite triggering, so those could be reasons to reconsider. I obviously watched this way before I heard of the show receiving several awards nominations. However, I thought those were well deserved. Because this production was indeed high quality and the whole team (both cast and crew) put in a lot of effort to make it happen.

Douluo Continent

captured by DTLCT

I started this out of curiosity. Well, I somewhat wanted to watch it because of Xiao Zhan. However, that didn’t motivate me as much since I put it on my list and wanted to keep it there while I took a break from ancient series. However, seeing Calvin sort of sealed the deal for me, lol. Yes, it moved up from the list thanks to Calvin. And if you want to read my thread, go here. Anyway, I thought it was interesting at first and laughed so hard with the humor thrown in to move everything along. It was addicting in a sense. However, it went downhill somewhere along the way. I didn’t mind since some of the cast and characters made it worthwhile and the humor came back along the way to ease the tension a bit–if only temporarily. The main focus of finding out the mastermind behind all those schemes kept the story going. That was the main reason I ended up sticking around. I wanted to find out what was the story behind so many layers of deceit too. Yet, the ending killed it major time. I will save that for later as to why, because I’ll start with my usual characters’ discussions before diving into the other parts of the story itself.

Main Cast:

  • Xiao Zhan (肖戰) as Tang San (唐三). He showed another level of acting chops that made it addicting to see what else he was capable of as the story moved along. Tang San was in a way, a hot-headed person although he had a kind heart overall. He started out quite naive and inexperienced, considering how he lived in a secluded place since little. It made sense. When I say naive, I didn’t mean he wasn’t smart. He was seriously a smart person, but his thoughts were quite simple–once again, because of where he lived since little. As he traveled along and met others, he became more experienced and his thoughts sharpened–mostly thanks to his master. The journey he went through allowed him to deal with various situations. His emotional state at each part was depicted very nicely by XZ. One could feel for him each time he found out something or was trying to work through the obstacles. In other words, it was really convincing. His playful side? I had already seen that side of him in The Untamed, so it was really easy for him, no challenge there. It was just nice to see his character having a mixture of personality to it, not one-dimensional as the main lead, so that was good. Side note, anyone felt like XZ’s image as Tang San in here made him resemble Ekin Cheng? (It did to me at various points, especially Ekin’s image in The Zu Mountain Sagas.) The one downside of Tang San–aside from his hotheadedness at times–that I felt kind of a shame was how there was a lack of scenes where he was alone. What in the world do I mean? He barely had scenes alone because he was always with some of the other characters. I know the theme emphasized throughout was teamwork, etc., but a character had to grow on their own and being able to handle challenges by onself as well. So, I thought one of the rare scenes that defined his character was the part where he went against Shi Nian. That was seriously awesome because he managed to deduct from all the details to unveil the latter’s trap. Although he needed his mom’s help during the battle, that at its heart was a battle of the mind and he didn’t fall for it–nor gave up control. It showed he had traveled a long way and was able to stay calm and work his way out of that mind control scheme. Definitely signs of growth and strength and much more.
  • Wu Xuan Yi (吳宣儀) as Xiao Wu (小舞). At first, I thought she was really cute with her rabbit ear and how she seemed to have such a simple view of life. I guessed immediately that she was a soul beast. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. They didn’t need to drag it out for me. It seemed like a liao zhai formula poking into this one. But in the context of the story, it was obviously different. The definite sign was how concerned she was for the soul beasts–even if it could be explained she had a kind and gentle heart, she reacted too strongly at times when it was mentioned about the soul beasts being slaughtered and how she was trying hard to find a way so both soul masters and soul beasts could co-exist. The even more obvious sign was how she could communicate and talk to the soul beasts and wasn’t the least bit scared of them. Once again, it could be explained she had some special abilities and/or skills to help in that area. However, why would the soul beasts trust a mere human like that? They had good reasons to be suspicious and defend themselves. So, it made a lot more sense that she was a soul beast hence both of the kings of the Star Forest trusted her and much more. Along the way, I just became annoyed with her to the point that I tuned her out mostly. Yeah, I’m heartless like that. But I felt it unnecessary that she kept engaging into all these side fights or seemed to crave for ’em whenever they were at a new place or something. Accepting challenges was one thing or if the other party initiated the fight, it was fair game. But that part where she just went and attack the Tian Dou Empire people like that? It was uncalled for. It showed her care for Tang San, but in the name of team spirit that they often chanted, she lost grounds major time. (So I didn’t like it that Tang San encouraged her on with his chant about how wrong Yu Tian Heng was to attack her. Hello, Yu Tian Heng warned her several times to leave and not cause trouble there. Yeah, I know, those kids were in love, so they threw reasons out the window, but still not cool.) Also, she never freaking listened or broke her promise each and every time. Yet it was dismissed and viewed as because she cared for Tang San so it was all right. It was getting ridiculous and I just didn’t want to bother anymore. It was explained in the brief parts of the ending by her that she was scared hence not telling Tang San stuff, but seriously, I thought it was still not right. Sure, it wasn’t like they could do anything at that point when they were restricted by Bi Bi Dong, etc. I got the fear and all. But it was Tang San, someone she claimed to care about and trust. She could lie to the world all she wanted–because they proved untrustworthy when it came to unknown variables within the soul masters stuff, but hiding stuff from Tang San? He never hid stuff from her. Trust is a two-way street. I thought her character reminded me madly of Ling Er in Chinese Paladin. Because the majority of the story tried to build a case for her character but she wasn’t special per say. Don’t talk about her abilities, the majority in here had their own strengths and weaknesses, so it was automatically viewed as awesome with all those skills they had regardless of other variables. So yeah, it didn’t impress me one way or another except boosting up her character as cute or should be important, etc. Once again, I don’t know why I need to clarify this, but this is NOT an attack on the actress. It’s just talking about her character here. If I was talking about the stars themselves, I would say so.

Supporting:

  • Calvin Chen as Yu Xiao Gang (玉小剛). I remember Calvin sharing pictures of him in costume. However, I never made the connection that it was for this one. I haven’t watched Calvin in ages, lol. Sorry, that made him sound old, lol. But more like I just lost track of his works and ended up writing more fanfics of him than actually watching. So yeah. His character in here was a nice change for me, comparing to his past idol dramas’ characters. It wasn’t like I disregard his efforts in those previous works. But I felt this was different in a sense that it challenged his acting even more. I often seen him in sunshine roles. If not those, at least, it aimed to be lighthearted. So this one, it transcended his acting to another level. After all, it was somewhat enlightened level master. He was still funny at times, but this role was considered to be of a more mature side. He was probably my favorite character in here. Yes, I said it. So, of course, there will definite be bias shift and I could go on for days in regard to his character. But I probably will not here, lol. It would be too long. But I loved the intelligence and wisdom his character brought forth in this one. Well, that had come from a lot of pain and suffering too. But he was seriously a genius. It ddin’t matter if he lacked the soul rings or whatever. He was the definition of working smarter and not harder. Because he could outwit people numerous times without needing to use his strength. What was more, he had such a cute Mutant Soul to help him. Luo San Pao was sooo cute yet appeared so little later that I miss that little dude. Poor him also, kept being called a “pig” when he was a dog, lol.
  • Qiu Xin Zhi (邱心志) as Lan De (蘭德). I haven’t seen him for a while now because I sort of gave up on some of his repetitive royal roles or maybe too glamorous ones. I felt this role was refreshing in a sense because he seemed not so stylish or polished anymore. It gave off a different vibe. He did brilliantly with depicting the humorous side of the character as well as the serious side as well. It was funny seeing him flipping out at times when it came to the finances, but he kept to his principle and didn’t join those big schools, etc. in their ways. So that was admirable all right. Oh yeah, he could just fly to any place he wishes so that was somethig.
  • Gao Tai Yu (高泰宇) as Dai Mu Bai (戴沐白). I didn’t like his arrogant ass at all at first. But when more details revealed itself, it made a lot of sense. So I cut him some slacks. He did learn to get along with the others eventually and opened up to them. It was hard, considering how he grew up with his psycho brother and had to watch his back constantly. He was taught at a young age to be independent and be the strongest. It was hard for him to adapt. It was also hard to let go of his pride. But he went a long way to undo those toxic mentality from his kingdom and managed to reach another level by trusting those around him.
  • Liu Mei Tong (刘美彤) as Zhu Zhu Qing (朱竹清). Dai Mu Bai’s fiancee. She projected some sort of mystery at first from her intro scenes, so I was looking forward to seeing more of her story development. I guessed she was somehow romantically linked to Dai Mu Bai yet didn’t get the context of the story. That was indeed different than the other stories in here. However, it was somehow hilarious to see Dai Mu Bai being troubled by her presence. It was later revealed that she had a similar background as Dai Mua Bai in that she also had a crazy sibling, trying to compete with her. Her sister was seriously crazy, masking the front with caring for her and wanting to protect her from Dai Mu Bai or others yet only wanted to spy on her and get the upperhand with different situations. It made sense she wanted to become tougher to face future obstacles. She also learned alongside the others as the journey continued on. It wasn’t like she was outright hostile toward others. She had an attitude, mostly toward Dai Mu Bai at first. Yet later, it gradually improved. She wasn’t stingy either because she was able to warm up to the ones who treated her nicely or kindly. She wasn’t arrogant in the sense that she thought she was better than everyone either. She knew she had skills yet also knew there were better soul masters out there. I guess, in short, she was a balance to some of the characters in here who belonged on one side or the other of the scale. She was also quite bright as well, figuring out the various techniques as she went through different trials.
  • Liu Run Nan (刘润南) as Ou Si Ke (歐思客). Lan De’s adopted son. He was hilarious from the start. I knew he was in cahoot with that first test, lol. He seemed like a silly, goofy type. Yet he could be so considerate toward others and had a kind heart. He was so passionate about his inventions and actually had a different life goals than others. At least, that was what he chanted at first. Later, it was revealed because he thought his talent wasn’t really a talent or seemed useless during challenges hence not wanting to pursue that path. He was happy to learn that he could be a great asset to the team hence continuing to train and accompany the others through the final competitions.
  • Ding Xiao Ying (丁笑瀅) as Ning Rong Rong (寧榮榮). I didn’t like her at all at first. Yes, surprising, but true. I just didn’t like her spoiled brat attitude-although the actress looked really cute when she showed up at their school. However, her character grew on me and somehow, her personal journey and growth was equally admirable as the others. Sure, she did side-step at times (along with the others) and had to be reminded to take it down as well with the confidence/arrogant boundary. However, she learned to get along with the others and treat them like a team as well. They had not only became friends but almost like family. She seemed fierce at times yet had a soft heart too when it came to caring for others. I thought the actress did a nice job in showing those various emotions and the character’s growth. You could see her arrogant side, her playful side, her cute side, etc. It was all different and addicting in a way to see what else she could do.
  • Ao Zi Yi (敖子逸) as Ma Hong Jun (馬紅俊). Lan De’s disciple. He had a tragic past and had to learn to live a normal life again after the others rescue him from himself and that one dude at his village. He was sheltered for most of his life and had difficult (for obvious reasons) to mingle with others at first. However, he had a chance to start over and ended up progressing much more than he could ever imagine. It was funny that Lan De accidentally overheard him discuss this whole business plan and ended up recruiting him as a disciple, lol. Even Ou Si Ke was shocked that he didn’t get special treatment, lol.
  • Huang Can Can (黃燦燦) as Hu Lie Na (胡列娜) / Qian Ren Xue (千仞雪). Bi Bi Dong’s daughter. She took on the identity of Hu Lie Na upon her mother’s request to conceal her real identity. For whatever reason, we do not know. But it could be said from her point of view (and probably true too, considering what we learned at the ending scene) that she was just another pawn to her mother’s grand scheme. At first, I did not like her at all. Dai Mu Bai’s words to Tang San described accurately how I felt about her. There was this creepy vibe about her that was nerve-racking. It was easy to tell that she wasn’t just there because she liked Dai Mu Bai and wanted to get to know him. Her actions were too suspicious already. One would have to be crazy to buy it. Then it was revealed later that she had the skills to morph into someone’s appearance and become them. It took all these magic madness to another level all right. I didn’t like her scheming ways regardless of her reasons or whatever she cooked up to convince others. However, upon learning how much she did in order to be acknowledged by her mother, it was heartbreaking. Sure, she did a lot of terrible stuff and hurt many people, but she was really pitiful. She did them randomly to seek approval from her mother. It reminded me of the Scorpion King from Word of Honor–even though the relationship dynamic was a little different. One couldn’t help but feel for them. Her character indeed was quite complex as the plot moved forward. I felt the actress did quite well at various points of the story. She showed the cunning, scheming nature quite convincingly. Also, the obvious contrast when she almost turned into a child again, just wanting the love of her mother–something she probably won’t ever have.

Others:

  • Kenny Bee as Tang Hao (唐昊). Tang San’s father. OMG, I totally didn’t recognize him although I felt he looked familiar. He appeared a little bit here and there. Then bam, he appeared to save the day just like that. It was like, hello, should have made him the main guy if it was that easy. Just saying? Yes, I’m still bitter about the ending being so anti-dramatic regarding the supposed important final battle, so yeah.
  • Zhu Zhu (朱珠) as Bi Bi Dong (比比東). Martial Soul Hall’s leader, Qian Xun Ji’s wife, Qian Ren Xue’s mother. She was ruthless and relentless in her ways yet acted like she was some victim in all of it and had no choice but to do such. I didn’t mind that she was ambitious and wanted to be a top soul master or whatever. That was most of the soul masters’ goals in here. However, she took it to another level, sacrificing the one she suppoedly love for power and then turned around to act like he was in the wrong to reject her proposal of turning him into a famous itellectual figure among the lands. Really? Then yeah, killing her husband and treating her daughter like trash. Yet somehow, she justified all of that behaviors because she said she wanted to become a powerful soul master. Really? Of course, the manipulation was top-notch too. How could anyone forget that anyway?
  • Wang Yi Fan (王亦凡) as Ye Zhi Qiu (葉知秋). Cang Hui Academy’s student. He was under Shi Nian’s mind control hence committing some of the cruelest act ever by carrying all the commands along the way.
  • Guo Zi Yu (郭子渝) as Gui Dou Luo (鬼鬥羅). The mastermind behind the schemes in order to assassinate Bi Bi Dong. He wanted to do all of that to avenge Qian Xun Ji’s death. He claimed his loyalty to the previous leader of the Martial Soul Hall only, considering how things turned out. However, Bi Bi Dong found out a long time ago and just wanted to use him to gather all her enemies up in one place to get rid of them once and for all. Too bad that everything he went through was all in vain. He wasted a lot of time and energy just to fall into Bi Bi Dong’s trap.
  • Ren Qing Na Mu (仁青娜姆) as Du Gu Yan (獨孤雁). She was soooo cute. At first, I didn’t think much of her except for a random character they encountered along the way. However, she played a larger part in the story. Well, not that large, but was tied to some of the grand scheme in that they wanted to use her grandfather’s power hence forcing his hands via poisoning her. I loved her feisty nature and her witty responses to her grandfather. It was hilarious to see how she used some crafty tricks to get him to save Tang San–or at least try to find him, etc. It was hilarious seeing that someone finally could get him to change his mind about matters. She said that she had someone in mind already and was teasing them about Tang San, so I was guessing Yu Tian Heng, lol. But of course, we didn’t get to see that either. It would have been fun to elaborate a little more.
  • Li De Xin (李德鑫) as Yu Tian Heng (玉天恆). Yu Xiao Gang’s nephew. I almost forgot his link to Master in here. However, I felt his character was someone whom I wanted to know more about. Of course, because of the relevancy of the story, time didn’t allow for that. I wonder if there was more info on him in the novel.
  • Wang Gen (汪亘) as Xue Beng (雪崩). Tian Dou Empire’s student, also a descendent of the royal family. His name meant avalanche (so yeah, his parents totally set him up for failure here). Anyway, not only was he arrogant but also a sore loser. He dared to challenge people yet couldn’t take the loss so he went into full tattle-teller mode and ruptured up the whole place just because. He was the only one that Xiao Wu fought that I didn’t have a problem with. ONLY because he was the one picking the fight with them all of a sudden.
  • Du Jun Ze (杜俊澤) as Dai Wei Shi (戴惟仕). Dai Mu Bai’s older brother. When he appeared in the story to cause trouble, I finally understood where Dai Mu Bai’s attitude and his overly condescencision came from. With a brother like this, it was a miracle he hadn’t gone insane. He had to watch his back at all time. Because this guy was the definition of arrogance in here. Like if you open up a dictionary, you see his face next to the word “arrogance” or something.
  • Wang Qiao (王俏) as Zhu Zhu Yun (朱竹雲). Zhu Zhu Qing’s older sister. Same vibe as Dai Wei Shi. I swear they were more like siblings than their siblings, lol. Or was that too much if they were under the same roof?
  • Bao Bo Yu (鮑柏宇) as Xue Qing He (雪清河). The crownd prince of Tian Dou Empire. He was quite bright for a young prince. He was probably trained by kingmakers, but he fitted with his role–unlike most spoiled royalties seen around. He knew what was happening all around him, not just taking in nice words from others only. The young actor was good in exuding those characteristics. And then the part where he was supposedly a fake. Nicely done.
  • Anthony Bao (包小松) as Prince Xue Xing (雪星親王). He was also quite arrogant. That was until he got brought down by Qian Ren Xue posing as the young prince. I guessed it was because he wasn’t completely dumb, so his trap was a little more elaborate than some of the others. Yet it was funny while it lasted, seeing him trying to throw his power around and then bam, he was gone. Just because of a misstep, that was.
  • Liu Jiao Xin (刘交心) as Du Gu Bo (獨孤博). Du Gu Yan’s grandfather. Where to begin? He came and went as he pleased. He lacked social skills and his attitude was terrible. His only weak spot was his precious grand-daughter–who knew that and took full advantage of him. In some ways, he deserved it, lol. He did break a bunch of promises to Tang San, so it was payback in some ways. He was hot-headed at times but not too unreasonable. He did learn to get along with others–somehow–and Tang San’s personality and patience helped. He was actually quite smart, considering how he helped Ye Zhi Qiu break the mind control thing and all.
  • Zhang Wen (张雯) as Liu Er Long (柳二龍). The third member of the old Golden Iron Triangle. She appeared almost toward the end of the series and helped them with some of the trials they went through. She was crazy obsessed for Yu Xiao Gang. Seriously, mixed feelings on that front. Because it could create humorous effect. But also somewhat awkward too. But her skills was undenialable though.
  • Shen Xiao Hai (沈曉海) as Ning Feng Zhi (寧風致). Rong Rong’s father.
  • Zhou Xiao Chuan (周小川) as Chen Xin (塵心) aka Grandpa Sword (劍爺爺). He was hilarious. I thought he would be some fierce force at first, but he created a hilarious atmosphere all around later on. The fact that he didn’t care for Rong Rong’s father’s BS stories about protecting her was equally hilarious as well. He was wise for his age as well, reminding the latter they used to be young once and wanted to travel the world and also becoming the best soul master, etc.
  • Guo Jia Nuo (郭家诺) as Shi Nian (時年). The leader of Cang Hui Academy. His special skills was mind control so he took full advantage of that to control his students and eventually all those around him to push forward the grand scheme of Guo Dou Luo. He finally met with his fate when his trap backfired.
  • Wang Lu (王露) as Huo Wu (火舞). Team member of the Flaming Fire Academy (熾火學院). She alerted Tang San about the missing teams, leading to their investigation into the situation. She was actually quite smart and reasonable. She trusted the Shi Lan Ke Academy because they weren’t controlled or influenced by the other powerful groups involved. It was a good call since that allowed the others to uncover more behind the schemes. Too bad, somehow, they didn’t show for sure if she and her teams and the rest of the other schools were actually safe or not. At least toward the end.
  • James Wen as Ju Dou Luo (菊鬥羅). I recognized him right away. Or at least made the connection. But I couldn’t be too sure because I had only seen James in an ancient setting like once before. So, I had to go look it up. But it was indeed him. It was kind of funny seeing him in here since I didn’t realize he was also part of the production. Anyway, how was his character? It was interesting at first. Then it died down. I meant, I didn’t expect him to hog the scenes and made it unbearable to watch. But as for his character, someone who recongized Dai Mu Bai’s talent, the least he could do was show some sense of integrity or a change of heart. Yet he remained disapointtingly dispecable even till the end. Like he was all right with the world falling apart and Bi Bi Dong controlling it. As long as he was comfortable in his position, that was it. Yes, selfish was all that he was. Okay, maybe I’ll give him arrogance too. But that was the majority of the soul masters in here–whether they were capable or not. But as for James, it was fun to watch him portray this role. A different side of him, kind of a laid-back character with a mixture of creepiness at times too.

Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:

  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Wu Xian Yi/ Xiao Wu as a couple. They spent A LOT of time together in here, so I didn’t think anyone would think they got robbed of time spent together. Well, if you did, I don’t know what to say, lol. I usually don’t force couples–unless the storyline is unconvincing that I make jokes about it. So, this time, it’s no different. They weren’t my favorite couple in here. But as long as their feelings were mutual, good for them.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Kenny Bee/ Tang Hao as father and son. There was no denying their bond. They were with one another since he was little. How could anyone deny that? Their strong bond was what made it all so confusing and heartbreaking when Tang San thought it could be his father who was responsible for all the pain and suffer. However, it also became a strong advantage for Tang San because that one guy tried to pose as his father and mind-trick him yet failed because of the special object that meant the world to them.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Calvin Chen/ Yu Xiao Gang as master and disciple. I was a little surprised that Tang San chose Yu Xiao Gang as his ultimate master. I meant regarding the circumstances and all, I wouldn’t blame him if he had high ambition and wanted to pick someone else in the future. It was expected the way things were within the land. Yet Tang San was determined to stick with the person whom taught him many things along the way already. He didn’t care that people were making fun of his master or whatever. All he knew was that the person who had been by his side and helping him when his father was absent from the scene.
  • Calvin Chen/ Yu Xiao Gang and Qiu Xin Zhi/ Lan De. They were a riot. They were friends yet kept sabotaging one another through words or strange bets, lol. Lan De always gambled or made bets yet when he lost to Master, he went into a rant about setting good examples for the students, lol. It was like, “Dude, what are you talking about? You’re the definition of bad examples here.” But during serious times, they also joined forces to deal with those obstacles. They knew one another ages already, so it wasn’t going to affect them with a little joke here and there.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Gao Tai Yu/ Dai Mu Bai. Perhaps, in those conventional wuxia, they could be considered as “knowing the hero, respecting the hero” type of relationship. Sure, they clashed somewhat at first yet learned to get along and eventually formed a bond–like how most of the team members did. Yet they were almost like brothers near the end, willing to trust one another and working together for the best of the team, not thinking with an individuality mindset anymore. Well, Tang San didn’t want to steal anyone’s limelight or anything. He was quite humble–for the most part. But he had to learn to rely on the others too, not just bearing it all by himself.
  • Gao Tai Yu/ Dai Mu Bai and Liu Mei Tong/ Zhu Zhu Qing as a couple. I felt they could be considered the model couple for the show. Serious, each show has one and they were it for this show. Because they started out really rough, not really getting along. Yet, they learned to trust and respect one another over time and had some proper dialogue as well. That built well into that one trial they had to go through near the end and merging their talents for the final battle. It wasn’t because they needed to win kind of thing. But it showed that they had gone a long way and had connected on a spiritual level as well.
  • Liu Run Nan/ Ou Si Ke and Ding Xiao Ying/ Ning Rong Rong as a couple. I would never thought of it in a serious manner, considering how it seemed so one-sided with Ou Si Ke waiting on her hand and feet at the beginning. Later, it just became a recurring comedic act and a consistency with how he often chased after her or tried to care for her, etc. Yet, it really showed during the part where they thought she got kidnapped by some mysterious force. It was hilarious yet also touching with him running in there, not caring if he got hurt, etc. She was able to see how serious he was too, not fearing death. Even if she knew Grandpa Sword well, but to think that Ou Si Ke went all out on tricks to save her was something quite risky. She took him more seriously after all. It wasn’t like they didn’t get along at that point of time already. But it was that moment she realized he meant it, not just the usual crazy, silly things he thought up to get her attention. Final answer? I swore they were the supposed cute couple in here. Completely unexpected, but they had taken that spot for me as major characters.

The ending? So, how did I feel after finishing it? Or should I say, “How many shades of disappointed was I after reaching the end?” Because seriously, I was disappointed–and temporarily somewhat shocked. I meant they built all this hype and intensity around it, hinting there was going to be some big reveal toward the so-called final battle YET it turned into a 2-second battle and that was it? Next time, something big happens, maybe they should just invite Kenny Bee to take care of it. Since he sure took care of it super fast and all. I didn’t want it to drag out anymore, but possibly they needed one or two more episodes to wrap everything up. Or were they planning to do a sequel? I know it was part of a saga, so it couldn’t cut into other works like that. However, if they weren’t planning on doing the sequel, maybe add a little more detail for people who never read the novels to swallow the ending better. Like after the battle, Tang Hao would just abandon everyone there and take care of Tang San and that was it? Yeah, I know that part was essential. But they needed to show how all the impacted parties fended afterward. It was explained or mentioned somewhat during the graduation ceremony what their future plans were. However, there were some additional variables that presented themselves after the battle, so it would make sense to focus on tying up those loose ends. Sure, we could guess for ourselves that they cleaned up, went home, and rest or recover until they were well enough to travel again. However, if anyone expected me to believe the other five wouldn’t go check on Tang San and Xiao Wu to make sure everything was indeed all right, they must be nuts. Sure, Tang Hao could have said something like, “I have to bring them somewhere, you guys clean up and rest first.” But that was a lot of assumptions on our part with all the details. How about Yu Xiao Gang’s reactions to what happened? He was still wounded from the past and as much as I don’t want to admit that he still cared for that evil witch, he still did. So, how could they just forget about it? There had to be some more aftermath as they go back to the lodging place and rest. Of course, there wasn’t much to do anyway since they couldn’t change the past, but there has to be some talk between him and Lan De or someone else to signify how they all felt about the craziness of the mystery that finally revealed itself. How about Bi Bi Dong’s daughter, Qiao Ren Xue? She just left? It wasn’t like she was going to kill her mama to avenge her papa. But maybe some type of closure for her and her future plans. And then what about what happened with Tian Dou Empire after she turned it upside down with her schemes previously? The most crucial thing that the production team completely forgot to cover too was the rest of the sects who disappeared. Yeah, Bi Bi Dong previously said she would release them after the mastermind dude revealed himself and they handle those stuff, but she couldn’t be trusted, hello. Was anyone checking on them? Were they dead for real this time? At least, give us a clue. That was one of the main focuses coming into the battles too. How could it be disregarded like that? Oh, what about the thing with Bi Bi Dong being able to force their martial souls out? No one explained that either. It was said vaguely by her that she had risen to another level hence knowing how to do it. But come on now! Again, we had to assume a lot with the other things in order for the ending to make sense. Well, it did make sense with Tang San and Xiao Wu. But regarding the rest of the characters, not so much. It was like “team spirit” and “go team” throughout and then bam, they just forgot to talk about the rest of the team when the ending rolled around? Fans of Tang San and Xiao Wu would have liked it too to see how it turned out and when the two would meet again, considering how she agreed with Tang Hao that she would leave him and learn to become stronger before returning to his side. So yeah, if there was an extra episode or two, it could show them meeting up in life again. Or was this all an attempt to direct everyone to read the author’s works to find the actual answers? Because that worked. I already placed it on my to-read list.

Recommended? I would say probably if you’re a fan of the cast or the novel. I don’t think anyone would be as stingy as me with picking on those details I mentioned so it might be even more enjoyable or lovable to you.

Fan Fiction: Critiquing Your Own Stories

Years ago when I was still active on Winglin and other online communities, there was an explosion of different authors and readers alike coming out with websites or their own page to critique different fan fiction authors. Whether it was to help the authors improve their writing techniques or just something fun to do, it was quite an experience. I never submitted my stories to any of those websites but found them intriguing because I learned of how an author’s perspective could be versus how readers see it. It’s so obvious for everyday, published authors to go through this process. But at that time when I started posting my stories online, it was a new experience for me and it opened my eyes to some levels.

So, what’s the point of this post, right? Especially when I’ve been lagging soooo much on stories. This is an attempt to get back into it. Because the following will be an activity like the title said. I’m going to have fun and critique all the fanfictions I’ve ever written. Yes, I won’t leave anything untouched. But before I do, here’s a disclaimer for those who haven’t read the stories yet (so don’t say I didn’t warn you):

NOTE: The following contains spoilers (obviously from the title), SO if you haven’t read my stories yet, DO NOT proceed.

The beginning of the story had great potential and felt refreshing. It paved a nice and peaceful picture and a hopeful feeling because it described the two major characters’ feelings and goals in life. The humorous exchanges between several characters led readers to believe it would be a fun story. Although it had some typical formula of a small-town family with the scenic backdrop to pave the way, there was some mystery with various characters that readers could look forward to exploring. All in all, it paved a promising picture.

The problem with this story was that it was too wordy. It was one of my first attempts at writing fanfiction so it got so messy with descriptions. It didn’t take into account “show instead of telling” so it felt flaky and corny. In addition, because there was a setback with the last few chapters so it dived into the morbid side without intending to in the first place. It completely took away from the main plot and its lighthearted feeling that was established in the first place. A bad call. Like the feeling when the writers totally gave up and just wanted to end it already like how I often criticize them, lol. Also, the feeling of the celebs chosen was so random and unorganized, like lumping a bunch of people together just because. It felt like a test run.

Heaven’s Gift

The setting at the beach at the beginning of the story was promising and lighthearted. It presented a typical picture yet also let readers see a glimpse into each major character’s personality with a dash of humor. It seemed like they didn’t change much over the years, except for the circumstances around them. Light humor continued to occupy the scene, paving the story and pushing the major characters together–or apart–as time went by. There were some surprising details to the plot but it lacked some details here and there, not allowing the full potential of the plot to be explored.

HIDE & SEEK

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Honey In Tea

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Neurotic

Like some other stories, it started out describing the scenery and then introducing the characters. The weather, once again, like some other stories, gave hints to what the plot was going to be like. There was some side humor but just subtle, not too much. It was saying like the story meant business and it was no time to joke around, not really.

It was an interesting concept although it didn’t take in a lot of rules of sci-fi and went off the rails regarding technicalities. However, what made up for it was the layout of the major characters. It kept consistent and featured three female leads. What broke the rule for the third one was leading into a happier, hopeful ending than was predicted. It also gave more character and depth to one of the so-called villains and even allowed for that person to redeem himself and had a start over.

Payback

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Scheming Nature

This was a typical setup of two pairings that were living on the opposite side of society. They met and interacted and somehow became entangled in a complex scheme. It provided a sense of mystery to the overall story and made the readers want to know what was to come and where the story was heading toward. The ending was a bit of an unknown, especially after the intense confrontations between two of the major characters and how it went down. However, it proved to be going on a typical route with allowing all problems to be resolved in a more favorable manner.

This story attempted to mock the life of gangsters and how it was supposed to be yet failed because, in the end, it was equally cliche and was corny in a sense of allowing some bizarre details to come into play. Although having the theme of gang-related activities as the backdrop for the plot, it failed to achieve its intended effect because of the halfway compromise of the mood as an overall. Sometimes, it edged toward the side of intensity or darkness that could push past the barriers of safety but it was shy of making it into something much more.

Slanted Thoughts

The story started out really random, bordering childishness because of the constant fights between two of the major characters. However, it evolved into a sadder story because of what happened at the end. Although it attempted to resurrect the atmosphere with some side humor, the plot never recovered with the happiness felt at the beginning of the story. It was later explained in the second part why it was so and eventually leading the plot into a darker path than was originally intended to–or so it seemed when compared to the beginning of the first part. What the plot lacked severely was the explanation and more details into a certain mysterious organization that impacted some characters’ lives so many years and ongoing. Some of the undertones provided a hint about how they were a big deal and were not to be messed with. Yet it failed to back up the claim as the story went along and eventually wrapped up. It also never explained why Tammy’s character had so much impact on what Wallace’s life was going to be and yet left him alone after he had apparently restored his memories. Or was it because it was to emphasize how scary he was if he returned to his past self? Or because the organization didn’t care how things turned out and that it was only important they kept everything a secret? Some things were never answered.

Slicing Boundary

This was a fun read, at least at the beginning. Sure, there were childish humor and constant competition between the two siblings–or so readers thought as it was with typical siblings rivalry. However, it took a dark turn, killing a major character unnecessarily. Was that an attempt to be overdramatic? Or was it because the writer just decided to give up and end it that way?

The Business

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The Dating Game

The story seemed really random but that wasn’t a bad thing. It hinted potential with so many major characters involved and how each was at a different point in their lives. It was fascinating to see how they all met and would become important–one way or another–in each other’s lives. The story shifted between humor and intensity and back again. Yet always managed to push the plot forward, introducing new characters or circumstances into their lives and how they would react to those situations.

Although the cast was so extended that it provided an outlet for many story arches yet because it was so crowded that it didn’t allow for a focus on some characters. Also, some of the characters had suffered from the inconsistency of personality, except for the main characters. It also created an unrealistic atmosphere with so many of their gatherings and their strong bonds over the years. It could be both good and bad but mostly it was unrealistic. Not to mention how ridiculously meddlesome most of them were of one another’s lives. The occasional stalking of various parties was equally bizarre.

The Other Extreme

The first scene already gave a snapshot of what the story was going to be about and how the dark mood predicted the inevitable ending for some characters. The weather foreshadowed a lot of the scenes that were to come for the story. The layout wasn’t bad yet the constant side randomness and humor involving the characters downplayed the overall theme for the majority of the story. It was actually character-based and not plot-based like it should have been. The lack of information on both gang’s background made it hard to relate and didn’t allow for more interest toward that side of the story. It became a wannabe gangster story because it didn’t say how or why they were fighting or fleeing for their lives. It was only covered briefly at the beginning of how both sides had been fighting since forever yet never revealed the real reason why.

Tri-Visual

The storytelling style was strange yet intriguing. It made readers want to read more and find out what was going on and what was the deal with these characters. Or if they could get out from the current prison they were in. However, there were only glimpses here and there and some side details of the characters. They could have been extended to a much more complex story.

True Friendship

This story started out introducing the main characters right away and hinted at their established relationship and how it would come into play later on. The story began lighthearted with some side humor and then took a more serious turn as the characters acknowledge much more complex issues surrounding their lives. In some sense, the story allowed the characters to face reality with a hard punch. But in other sense, it felt a little dramatic and forced. Yet the story was still written a dialed down sort of way, like some subtlety of daily life happenings that could edge toward blandness but jumped back with a kick to tell us that reality will strike again. It was a mixture of complexity and simplicity. It had this balance and one tip of the scale would lead the story spiraling away.

When Wishes Come True

The story introduced some promising aspects, such as the story being told from the main character’s point of view. There were also inspirational quotes involved. So that sort of gave a feeling of a legit book. However, it took a shaky turn and ended up being a typical high school, mean girl type of war. There were some interesting ideas but the execution was terrible and the plot dull. If at all, that was.

Winds & Rain

Extremely disappointing because it seemed like an attempt to crank out something that involved the two main characters. It seemed like an unfinished story and didn’t involve a lot of details. It would have been better to wait for some sort of idea to come forth before continuing with the story. It should have been a one-shot, then it would make more sense.

Conclusion

So, aside from being random for this post, what’s the point here? Of all the stories I’ve written, I only liked True Friendship. Yes, that sad. I took it slow and made it through without feeling like I needed to rush anything or wanted to write to please readers. It wasn’t like I didn’t add in random conversations or some bizarre humor. The story had both. But what was different was how the two main characters didn’t end up together but also didn’t downplay their relationship throughout. It acknowledged some of the more realistic aspects of life, even if it didn’t allow for the story to cover all. I did get stuck on it at one time but the time spent thinking about the plot as an overall and side brainstorming, it had allowed me to change the ending for the better, at least to me.

I also realized some things about my writing styles. Well, I already realized it for a while now but here’s an outright confession, lol. Some characters, especially the main ones, tend to fall into one formula. So I think that’s something to take into account to try to make it different in the future. Or least mix it up a bit.

If anyone noticed, I think I got influenced by Gu Long and Jin Yong at times, lol. No jokes. Sad, but I read those two a lot so I got influenced, especially with describing sceneries and stuff. But of course, I couldn’t go to their level. Not yet. The reason I said “not yet” is because I at least want to reserve some hope that one day I could reach another level. Or like find my own styles. For now, just recognizing the flaws is enough.

So that’s the fun post. More to come in the future, hopefully.

NOTE: This post will be updated from time to write as I add more stories to my blog or finish the current ones.

Year 2015 in Recap

 

Oh joy, I’m bringing this back since it’s another year of madness. How did it go? Let’s check the number first, lol. Yes, before I start bragging and realized it wasn’t worth bragging over, lol. But before I actually go into the stats, I would like to thank The New World and iHero for making some of the impossibles happen. Because if it wasn’t for the dramas, I wouldn’t have updated so much or kept it so consistent for the better half of the year. Also, anyone wanting to check out the stat report from WordPress, click here.

Total Posts in 2015:

365 (35% of all time). Yes, I took the challenge of trying to keep up posts for 365 days SO had to brag here. It wasn’t easy and some posts were less impressive than others. However, I think it was already tough that I managed it all year long. For this year, will I be continuing on this pattern? I want to but I would say no. Since quality trumps quantity so I’ll still be updating, still be my random self at times, but I won’t force it as an everyday thing. If it happens, it happens. Now, moving on to the breakdown of different categories.

 

Times Updated on People on the Poll:

284 (78% of overall). I took out Ady and Hu Ge early on so I didn’t feel like I needed to include them in this section. Anyway, because I did the 365-day challenge, everyone benefited–one way or another. However, Achel had a surge, leaving Jun Ya behind with only 22 posts, because Wallace, Joanne, Bianca, and Jacky ended up having more posts than him for the year. That knocked him off top 5 for the year yet didn’t damage his overall record too much. Talking about that, he was the reason why I held off so long of not publishing this post since I needed to calculate some of the posts again. Yet I decided to gamble and take out some and possibly double back next year to correct it all. Oh yeah, I didn’t count general updates for some people, especially those with higher numbers already.
Wallace Huo: 26 (9% of the year)
Janine Chang: 16 (6%)
Vic Chou: 12 (4%)
Joanne Tseng: 25 (9%)
Nicholas Teo: 18 (6%)
Xiu Jie Kai: 12 (4%)
Angela Chang: 12 (4%)
Zhao Jun Ya: 22 (8%)
Yvonne Yao: 7 (2%)
Penny Lin: 16 (6%)
Achel Chang/ Zhang Xin Yu: 34 (12%)
Sophia Chou: 6 (2%)
Ruby Lin: 16 (6%)
Van Fan: 9 (3%)
Eric Suen: 5 (2%)
Bianca Bai: 25 (9%)
Jacky Chu: 23 (8%)

Books Reviews:

Music Reviews:

Movies + TV Series Reviews/Episode Summaries:

I will say that I was both proud and also a bit ashamed because I was cheating for several dramas by inserting placeholders. I was trying to motivate myself to watch faster and/or fill the spaces yet things got in the way and I fell behind once again.

Fan Fiction:

Songs Translations:

I think that it was too obvious that it was a Phil Chang year for me. Yes, I love that guy. Okay, mostly his songs, lol. But he is funny. Getting back to this, totally outdone myself on some levels. Overall, I translated 51 songs. OMG, that’s like a major achievement for me in this area. The previous year, I only did 12, but that was because I didn’t really take it as a challenge. I think this number will drop the upcoming year since I won’t be forcing myself to update every day.

Chinese: 46

Vietnamese: 5

Side Updates:

130 posts – My randomness seriously has gone way past normal. I didn’t count some of the side stuff. But The New World and iHero obviously dominated the scene for the beginning of the year.

For this year, I hope to bring out more quality posts, like I said earlier. I also hope to finish up the placeholder posts that I haven’t previously. Wish me luck and see you all next year!

Golden Bell Awards 2015: Winners

Yes, I had to quit Facebook to watch faster, lol. I was slower last year with putting it up because I got discouraged with watching after being spoiled, lol. Anyway, congrats to all the winners!

Best Art and Design – Presented by Ming Dao and Janet:
You Jia Shi, Huang Jian Hao, Wu Jin Wei, Cai Can En, Chen Shu Lin (尤佳施、黃健豪、吳進偉、蔡燦恩、陳淑琳) – World’s Top Chinese Music (全球中文音樂榜上榜) (TVBS)
Yao Guo Zhen and Figaro Ceng (姚國禎、曾少宗) – Maidenology (許涼涼與她的少女們)
Chen Wei Zhong (陳韋中) – Freak Family (超級夥伴)
Chen Jia Sheng (陳嘉晟) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Liao Bing (廖秉怡) – A Corner (一個角落)

Best Film Editing – Presented by Hu Gua, Ah Xiang, and Hao Zi:
Lin Xin Min and Zhou Wen Qin (林欣民、周文欽) – Taiwan to the World: Island of Fish: Promise Fish (綻放真台灣5–魚之島:黑潮的承諾)
Nian Li Wen (粘瓈文) – Discovery (台灣製造大解密)
Nian Li Wen and Lin Xin Min (粘瓈文、林欣民) – Taiwan to the World: Island of Fish: Taste of Fish (綻放真台灣5–魚之島:台灣好吃魚)
Lai Meng Jie (賴孟傑) – Freak Family (超級夥伴) (Videoland Television Network)
Su Pei Yi (蘇珮儀) – Rainbow Fairy (尋物少女)

Best Lighting – Presented by Zeng Guo Cheng and Fang Fang Fang:
Li Yuan Yue (李元嶽) – Go Music 3 (音樂萬萬歲3) (PTS)
Xu Shi Ming (許世明) – Mr. Right Wanted (徵婚啟事)
Dong Chong An (董崇安) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Xie Han Yang (謝漢諹) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Zhong Qiong Ting (鍾瓊婷) – Probing Worries (偷窺心事) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)

Best Supporting Actress – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Zhong Xin Ling and Lin Mei Xiu:
Momo Wu (吳若湄) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Vivi Lee (李維維) – A Corner (一個角落) (CTI)
Chen Qiu Zhen (陳秋貞) – Let The Sunshine In (浪子單飛)
Xie Ying Xuan (謝盈萱) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)

Best Sound Editing – Presented by Zhu Ke Liang and (?):
Li Chun Xiong, Lin Jie, Xia Jing Chun, and Xie Zong Jie (李春雄、林潔、夏敬淳、謝宗杰) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Yu Zheng Xian (余政憲) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Hong Zi Wei (洪梓為) – 1 Carat’s Roommate (一克拉的室友) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Chen Fei Wu and Shen Zhi Peng (陳飛午、沈志朋) – Taiwan to the World: Island of Fish: Taste of Fish (綻放真台灣5–魚之島:台灣好吃魚)
Jiang Zhen Dao, Xu Lan Ting, Chen Wei Jun, You Wan Shen (蔣震道、徐嵐婷、陳惟君、游寓紳) – Freak Family (超級夥伴)

Best Supporting Actor – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Zhu Ke Liang and (?):
Chris Wu (吳慷仁) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)
Mason Lee (李淳) – Love’s End Point (愛情的盡頭)
Michael Huang (黃仲崑) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)
Xi Xiang (喜翔) – God of Love Karaoke (愛神卡拉OK) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Wen Cheng Lin (溫乘麟) – Mother’s Practiced Tune (母親練習曲)

Best Leading Actor – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Zhu Ke Liang and (?):
Easton Dong (東明相) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Kaiser Chuang (莊凱勛) – The Road Home (回家路上)
Kaiser Chuang (莊凱勛) – On A Journey (出遊) (PTS’ Student Life Story Collection)
Jag Huang (黃健瑋) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)
Huang Deng Hui (黃鐙輝) – Let The Sunshine In (浪子單飛)

Best Cinematography – Presented by Zhang Fei and Ruby Lin:
Li Ming (李鳴) – Rainbow Fairy (尋物少女) (CTI)
Zhou Wen Qin, Zhang Wei Zhi, and Liang Yi Yang (周文欽、張緯誌、梁義洋) – Taiwan to the World: Island of Fish: Promise Fish (綻放真台灣5–魚之島:黑潮的承諾)
Hu Wu Zheng (胡午正) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Feng Xin Hua (馮信華) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Huang Pei Li, Hu Guo wei, Xie Zheng Feng, Du Li Ren, and Liang Yong Guang (黃培理、胡國偉、謝政峰、杜立仁、梁勇光) – Slow Travel Adventures (浩克慢遊) (PTS)

Best Screenwriter/ Script – Tele-movies – Presented by Zhang Fei and Ruby Lin:
Yu Wei Shan (于瑋珊) – The Kids (小孩)
Chen Yi Ru (陳怡儒) – On A Journey (出遊)
Zhang Qi En (張綺恩) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Huang Jian Ming and Wang Hui Zhu (黃建銘、王卉竺) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)
Cai Yi Deng (蔡沂澄) – The Road Home (回家路上)

Best Leading Actress – Min-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Zhang Fei and Ruby Lin:
Mei Fang (梅芳) – Water’s Origin (水源地) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Jenny Wen (溫貞菱) – The Kids (小孩)
Megan Lai (賴雅妍) – Love’s End Point (愛情的盡頭) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Yan Yi Wen (嚴藝文) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Yan Yi Wen (嚴藝文) – Mother’s Practiced Tune (母親練習曲) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)

Best Director – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Ye Quan Zhen and (?):
Yu Wei Shan (于瑋珊) – The Kids (小孩)
Wang Chuan Zong (王傳宗) – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
Xu Rong Rong (許榕容) – Let The Sunshine In (浪子單飛)
Liao Shi Han (廖士涵) – The Road Home (回家路上)
Aozaru Shiao (蕭力修) – Wake Up (麻醉風暴)

Best Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presented by Ye Quan Zhen and (?):
PTS’ Life Story Collection – The Kids (小孩)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – Angel’s Voice Recorder (天使的收音機)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – The Road Home (回家路上)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – Let The Sunshine In (浪子單飛)
Wake Up (麻醉風暴) (PTS)

Best Screenwriter/ Script – Drama – Presented by Blue Lan and (?):
Du Zheng Zhe, Lu Hui Xin, Yang Hui Wen, and Li Song Lin (杜政哲、盧慧心、楊蕙文、李松霖) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Lu Shi Yuan (呂蒔媛) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)
Wu Fan / Wu Yu Qing, Deng Li Fen, Hei Mi / Tu Fang Xiang, and Chen Jia Zhen (吳繁/吳毓青、鄧莉芬、黑米/涂芳祥、陳嘉振) – iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄)
Xu Yu Ting (徐譽庭) – Apple In Your Eye (妹妹)
Huang Zhi Xiang (黃志翔) – The New World (新世界)

Best Supporting Actor – Drama – Presented by Blue Lan and (?):
Zhu De Gang (朱德剛) – The New World (新世界)
Mark Lee (李天柱) – San Bao Wanted To Go Home (三寶要回家) (DaAi TV)
Zhang Shao Huai (張少懷) – Mr. Right Wanted (徵婚啟事) (GTV / TTV)
Melvin Sia (謝佳見) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Soda Voyu (蘇達) – iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄)

Best Supporting Actress – Drama – Presented by Blue Lan and (?):
Jean Lee (李依瑾) – The New World (新世界)
Lin Yu Xuan (林雨宣) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)
Miao Ke Li (苗可麗) – Someone Like You (聽見幸福) (SETTV)
Tiffany Hsu (許瑋甯) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Isa Hsieh (謝瓊煖) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)

Best Leading Actress – Drama – Presented by Wilber Pan and Rainie Yang:
Zhu Zhi Ying (朱芷瑩) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Ruby Lin (林心如) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Huang Pei Jia (黃姵嘉) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)
Rabbit Yang (楊可涵) – The New World (新世界) (TTV)
Janel Tsai (蔡淑臻) – iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄)

Best Director – Drama – Presented by Zhang Chen Guang and Tian Xin:
Li Zhi Qiang (李志薔) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)
Chen Rong Hui (陳戎暉) – Apple In Your Eye (妹妹)
Xu Fu Xiang (許富翔) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Xu Zhao Ren (許肇任) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)
Lai Meng Jie and Zhang Xiu Cheng (賴孟傑、張修誠) – iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄)

Best Leading Actor – Drama – Presented by Vic Chou, Ariel Lin, and Chen Bo Lin:
Chris Wu (吳慷仁) – Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所)
Kurt Chou (周孝安) – iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄)
Leroy Yang (楊一展) – The Way We Were (16個夏天)
Blue Lan (藍正龍) – Apple In Your Eye (妹妹)
Lan Wei Hua (藍葦華) – Brave Forward (新丁花開)

Best Dramas – Presented by Bu Xue Liang, Harlem Yu, Zhang Xiao Yan, and Huang Zi Jiao:
The Way We Were (16個夏天) (TVBS)
iHero (C.S.I.C鑑識英雄) (CTV)
Apple In Your Eye (妹妹) (GTV)
Long Day’s Journey Into Light (出境事務所) (Hakka TV)
Brave Forward (新丁花開) (Hakka TV)

*All information were translated and verified by DTLCT.

Liao Zhai 2014: Review

(image credit: as marked)

Story 1 – Judge Lu (陆判)

Probably the most anticipated for me because of Qiao Zhen Yu yet I felt disappointed in it. Not because of the other cast or anything. I surprisingly liked Alice Ko in here since she hasn’t really clicked for me in her past dramas. Then perhaps it was just the plot or strange characterization that made it hard to relate for me. In here, she was really cute and funny as Qi Ting and was cunning and creepy as Jing Lan. The same for Liu Dong, portraying two roles so seamlessly alongside Alice. However, the plot was just dragging on and on between the Zhu sisters fighting over Tao Yue Ming that it didn’t appeal to me as much. Well, Qi Ting wasn’t fighting with her sister, but it seemed to shuffle back and forth between the love story so I wasn’t as interested in it as I would have.

Story 2 – Heaven and Earth (乾坤)

Surprisingly good. I was having doubts about this pairing of Cecilia Han Xue and Chen Long. Yet their chemistry was quite good. I enjoyed their story more because of the combinations of the battle in the demon realm and how the story eventually played out. What was funny was how my mom (who is a major fan of Norman Chui) thought that he was just in here for some side, unimportant character that needed to be rescued. However, when the twist came around, it was indeed quite chilling. It was a nice twist though. He had to be the big, bad guy. How could he just stand aside and play some small role, right? Nice. Bittersweet ending, but it wasn’t too tragic. Well, it was when the ending was unknown. But once the last scene rolled around, it wasn’t too bad.

Story 3 – Heng Niang (恒娘)

The chemistry between Lin You Wei and Kimi Li was so cute. At least initially. Having done the translations for the plot summary, I had expected the inevitable. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying their cute moments. How she hugged him when she finally arrived at the town. He was so happy and hugged her back. Then there was also the part where she tried to act all civilized and polite with the courtesy, so of course, she didn’t eat as much. It was so funny watching her trying to find food and then finding food at last. I totally sympathize. How could anyone eat so little? The cutest part was how he placed a cup of water/tea on the table. It showed that the person who prepared the special midnight dinner for her was him. So she hugged him, so touched. Only he would understand her. It was really cute and nice. He told her not to hold back since it was her house after all, so she could eat all that she wanted. Indeed, so cute. It was hard to see how he could betray her later on. Yet when the scenes finally came around regarding the betrayal, I realized that it wasn’t what was let on in the summary. There were many factors to think about. So in the end, I sort of forgive them for the mess. I felt that after all that was said and done, Heng Niang and Tian Fu belonged together.

Poor James Wen, once again had to play the bad guy. Yet I think for this type of short story, it was all right. He didn’t disappoint. After all, they needed to cut Lin You Wei some slacks, considering how he had to play some not so likable characters in the past. It was about time he stepped out of the shadow, right? Somewhat dramatic but was entertaining enough with a mixture of fantasies and all. Not to mention how they got past the ‘time travel’ thing! LOL! If only it was that obvious to cut out, right? Nicely done.

Story 4 – Lian Suo (连琐)

Hilarious. At least at first. Because of how Royce Wong’s character, Yang Yu Wei, was so freaked out by the ghost haunting his new house. It was insane. He tried everything but it didn’t work. He tried to reassure his brother that he was fine, but of course, he was far from fine. The story was quite intriguing at various points, with both sweetness and bitterness. Plus other very terrifying aspects, once again visiting the theme of people sometimes are scarier than ghosts/demons.

Story 5 – Ye Sheng (叶生)

Sad, so sad. But it wasn’t too frustrating. Okay, it was in a way since there was a little more time before the ending yet the main guy died. But I think it wasn’t for nothing. The prince grew up still remembering him and still referred to him as his father. Talking about that, I especially like the relationship between Medic Ye and the young prince as father and son.

There were twists and turns about the plot and the unexpected thing led others to realize sometimes things weren’t what they were seen. Even if you think you got the story straight. A very touching story on many levels.

Story 6 – Kingdom of Female Demons (夜叉国)

*Can’t find it, will go back later since I am quite intrigued by this story after translating the summary.

Story 7 – The Flower Spirit (花姑子)

*Might go back later. (If I can find it.)

Story 8 – Maiden In Green (绿衣女)

Interestingly my favorite story among all. I was just curious about how Bianca would fend and how the story would be. I also have doubts about her pairing up with Calvin Li. Yet they were awesome. I loved them from the start. Their story was touching and quite real. I meant aside from the whole fantasy elements, lol. I know, sounds ironic. But their relationship with living in the mountains and taking care of his mom as a family was quite nice. Then the other elements made it quite tragic. What was nice about it was how the Taoist wasn’t such an uptight, not knowing the gray areas–like some other stories in the past had led on. He was quite cool and knew that there were actually good demons as well, not just outright lumping them all together. At least, it was when he realized what was going on after the initial disagreement. What was a bit ironic about the situation was how she was the demon at the beginning of the story yet in the end, he was the demon. How could they work it out? Well, I guess they waited for so long, they would find a way to get past that obstacle as well. Not to mention how they needed her father’s approval too.

So conclusion? I think it’s clear that story #8 is my ultimate favorite. Then story # 2, #5, #4, #3, and #1–in that order. It’s because I haven’t watched the other two yet so I couldn’t place them. But will go back for those later and possibly change my answer. Anyway, I would’ve placed #3 higher but I think because of some repeated stuff, I want to switch it out. Although #4 was quite frustrating at some points too, I think the overall sort of made it worthwhile. Even if it was really tragic. Number #3, only found Lin You Wei and Kimi Li cute. Although the story with the fox demons was intriguing but also frustrating so I didn’t care for it as much. And I already explained why #1 is so low on the list.

Liao Zhai 2014: Heng Niang (恒娘)

At the county town, there was a set of ongoing murders. The official Hong Tian Fu (Lin You Wei)’s wife, Heng Niang (Kimi Li), on her way traveling from the villages to the county town unexpectedly met with a weird old woman, a wine addict (Fan Xiao Bo). Both parties treated one another like old friends upon that first meeting. Heng Niang’s inability to change her village girl habits and personalities had caused Tian Fu to lose face wherever she went. Fortunately, through the weird old woman’s teaching, Heng Niang had changed from inside out to a new person. The person responsible for the deaths around town was a fox demon Di Lun (James Wen). Because he was trying to turn into an immortal thus letting Heng Niang fall into his trap and eventually losing herself, turning into a very fierce and cold-blooded person. So the weird old woman was actually Heng Niang’s former self. That one year, having to face her husband’s changed heart and her failed suicide attempt, she went into the mountains and had successfully mastered the immortality technique and turned into an immortal fox. She originally thought that she could change her life by returning to the past and mentoring her past self thus starting anew yet ended up losing the most precious of all, her humanity.

Huyện thành liên tiếp xảy ra những vụ án có liên quan tới mạng người. Vợ của huyện lệnh Hồng Thiên Phúc (Lâm Hữu Uy) là Hằng Nương (Lý Kim Minh), trên đường từ nông thôn đi tới huyện thành bất ngờ gặp phải một bà lão quái lạ, coi rượu như mạng (Phạm Tiểu Ba). Hai bên mới gặp nhau nhưng coi nhau như đôi bạn cũ. Hằng Nương vì không đổi được tánh nết của một cô gái nông thôn nên đi tới đâu cũng khiến Thiên Phúc mất mặt. May thay nhờ lão bà quá lạ kia chăm sóc dạy bảo nên Hằng Nương từ trong ra ngoài đã rực rỡ hẳn lên. Kẻ tạo ra những vụ án mạng kia chính là hồ yêu Địch Luân (Ôn Thăng Hào). Vì tu luyện tiên pháp cho nên để cho Hằng Nương rơi vào tinh tâm kế của hắn khiến Hằng Nương dần dần mất đi tự ngã và trở nên tâm tánh cay độc. Bà lão quái lạ kia hóa ra là Hằng Nương của ngày xưa. Năm đó vì đối mặt với sự thay lòng của chồng mình và vì tự sát không thành nên đã vào núi tu luyện thành hồ tiên. Đáng lẽ nghĩ rằng có thể quay về quá khứ để có thể dạy cho bản thân cách thay đổi chính mình và có một cuộc sống mới. Ai ngờ đã mất đi thứ quý nhứt, chính là nhân tính.

*All information was from Baidu, and all translations were by DTLCT.

*All images were collected around the net hence belonging to their rightful owners.

Golden Bell Awards 2013: Winners

I know, I know. I’m way late with posting up results. But I had to wait until I actually have time or try to squeeze in some watching here and there before I could post this up–instead of just copying and pasting stuff from other sites. Anyway, those of you who have watched or read news know who won. (Go here to read about more exciting updates from the pros! LOL!) Again, like last year, I’m posting results by the order it was announced (except for variety shows, etc).

Best Film Editing – Presenters: Megan Lai and Leroy Yang:
Chen Zhen Guo (陳振國) – 3 Flowers’ Natural Haircut (三朵花純理髮)
Gao Ming Sheng (高鳴晟) – The Busy Young Psychic (神算)
Huang Guan Jun (黃冠鈞) – Record Standpoint – A Rolling Stone (紀錄觀點—築巢人)
Wen Ming Long (溫明龍) – Home (回家)
Fan Qiu Yan (潘秋燕) – The Cursed Mere (陂塘)

Best Cinematography – Presenters: Megan Lai and Leroy Yang:
Li Xue Zhu (李學主) – Discovery – Dajia River (DaAi TV)
Lin Jun Yang (林君陽) – 3 Flowers’ Natural Haircut (三朵花純理髮) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Fu Shi Ying (傅士英) – Midsummer Night Prefectural City (仲夏夜府城)
Liao Jing Yao (廖敬堯) – Katang Kids (南風。六堆 喀噠大作戰)
Liu Zhi Yi (劉志益) – MTV Taiwan Documentary (MIT台灣誌)

Best Marketing Program – Presenters: Megan Lai and Leroy Yang:
Two Fathers (2個爸爸) (SETTV)
Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天) (PTS)
Flavor of Life (含笑食堂) (SETTV)
KO One Return (終極一班2) (GTV)
An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗) (TTV)

Best Supporting Actress – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presenters: Na Dou (納豆) and Selina Ren:
Mariko Okubo (大久保麻梨子) – Substitute For Love (愛情替聲)
Debbie Yao (姚黛瑋) – Sweet Recipe of Happiness (幸福蜜方) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Lu Yi Ching (陸弈靜) – Radiance of Heng Sheng (光明恆生) (DaAi TV)
Huang Cai Yi (黃采儀) – Life Is Shit (臺北八個人) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Tan Ai Zhen (譚艾珍) – A Di Zi, Do You Know? (阿弟仔,知道不知道)

Best Lighting:
Wu Ming De (吳明德) – National Treasure In Focus (對焦國寶) (PTS)
Xu Shi Ming (許世明) – The Cursed Mere (陂塘)
Zhuang Hong Yu (莊弘裕) – Sunlight Paradise (日光天堂)
Cheng Wei Zhong (程韋中) – Substitute For Love (愛情替聲
Zhong Qiong Ting (鍾瓊婷) – 3 Flowers’ Natural Haircut (三朵花純理髮)

Best Sound Editing:
Wu Jia Li, Lin Chuan Zhi, Jian Shu Huan, and Huang Shan Liang (吳嘉莉、林傳智、簡淑歡、許勝雄、荒山亮) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
Chen An Ru, Yu Zheng Xian, and Zhang Rong Yi (陳安如、余政憲、張榮倚) – Midsummer Night Prefectural City (仲夏夜府城)
Huang Nian Yong, Zheng Wei Zhi, and Zhang Rong Yi (黃年永、鄭維芝、張榮倚) – Katang Kids (南風。六堆 喀噠大作戰)
Yang Yi Xuan, Shen Sheng De, and Xu Yi Hong (楊以瑄、沈聖德、許一鴻) – The Busy Young Psychic (神算)
Deng Mao Zi, Gao You Feng, Suo Ji Chang, Luo Yi Juan, and Li Ai Xuan (鄧茂茲、高友峰、鎖際昌、羅怡娟、李艾璇) – Traversal 101 (穿越101)

Best Art and Design:
Lin Pei Chen (林沛辰) – An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗)
Ke Qing Mei (柯青每) – Midsummer Night Prefectural City (仲夏夜府城)
Xu Ying Guang and Zhao Shu Yin (許英光、趙舒音) – Home (回家)
Zheng Jia Wei (鄭嘉偉) – Traversal 101 (穿越101)
Lai Yong Kun (賴勇坤) – 3 Flowers’ Natural Haircut (三朵花純理髮)

Best Screenwriter/ Script – Tele-movies – Presenters: Kingone Wang and Jade Chou:
Chen Jia Min (陳佳敏) – The Will to Power (權力過程)
Chen Guan Ting and Huang Jing Zu (陳冠廷、黃靖祖) – The 31st Sign (第三十一首籤)
Huang Ying Min and Lv Deng Gui (黃英珉、呂登貴) – Katang Kids (南風。六堆 喀噠大作戰) (Hakka TV)
Lei Xiao Ci (雷孝慈) – That Day, Mom Came To See Me (那天媽媽來看我)
Liao Shi Han and Shi Hong Ru (廖士涵、施虹如) – Midsummer Night Prefectural City (仲夏夜府城)

Best Supporting Actor – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presenters: Kingone Wang and Jade Chou:
Wu Ding Qian (吳定謙) – The 31st Sign (第三十一首籤)
Li Tao (李滔) – A Di Zi, Do You Know? (阿弟仔,知道不知道)
Vince Kao (高英軒) – A Complete Life (双全)
Chen Mu Yi (陳慕義) – The Will to Power (權力過程)
Tang Zhi Wei (湯志偉) – The Will to Power (權力過程)

Best Leading Actress – Min-series/ Tele-movies – Presenters: Kingone Wang and Jade Chou:
Yin Xin (尹馨) – The Will to Power (權力過程)
Bai Bing Bing (白冰冰) – That Day, Mom Came To See Me (那天媽媽來看我)
Zhu Zhi Ying (朱芷瑩) – Sunlight Paradise (日光天堂) (Hakka TV)
Yu Pei Zhen (余佩真) – The Busy Young Psychic (神算) (PTS’ Student Life Story Collection)
Yang Xiao Li (楊小黎) – Substitute For Love (愛情替聲)

Best Director – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presenters: Long Shao Hua and Miao Ke Li:
Wang Chuan Zong (王傳宗) – A Di Zi, Do You Know? (阿弟仔,知道不知道)
Zhu Jia Lin (朱家麟) – Traversal 101 (穿越101)
Xin Jian Zong (辛建宗) – Substitute For Love (愛情替聲
Fan Yang Zhong (范揚仲) – The Will to Power (權力過程)
Zeng Xin Ying (曾馨瑩) – The 31st Sign (第三十一首籤)

Best Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presenters: Long Shao Hua and Miao Ke Li:
PTS’ Life Story Collection – Midsummer Night Prefectural City (仲夏夜府城)
Traversal 101 (穿越101) (PTS)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – The 31st Sign (第三十一首籤)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – Substitute For Love (愛情替聲)
PTS’ Life Story Collection – The Will to Power (權力過程)

Best Leading Actor – Mini-series/ Tele-movies – Presenter: Miao Ke Li:
Tai Bao (太保) – The Best Thing (最好的一件事) (PTS’ Student Life Story Collection)
Wang Mon Ling (王夢麟) – A Di Zi, Do You Know? (阿弟仔,知道不知道) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)
Liang Xiu Shen (梁修身) – The Will to Power (權力過程)
Bi Xiao Hai (畢曉海) – Fresh Meatball (鮮肉餅) (PTS’ Student Life Story Collection)
Long Shao Hua (龍劭華) – La Ba Hong’s Song of Grief and Joy (喇叭宏的悲喜曲) (PTS’ Life Story Collection)

Best Supporting Actor – Drama – Presenters: James Wen and Janel Tsai:
Chen Bo Zheng (陳博正) – Sweet Sweet Bodyguard (剩女保鏢) (SETTV)
Li Li Ren (李李仁) – Home (回家)
Li Chen Xiang (李辰翔) – End of Innocence (死了一個國中生之後)
Lin Zong Ren (林宗仁) – Love in the Wind (你是春風我是雨) (GTV)
Zhang Shao Huai(張少懷) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)

Best Supporting Actress – Drama – Presenters: James Wen and Janel Tsai:
Xiao Xun (小薰) – Love Me Or Leave Me (我租了一個情人) (TTV)
Lv Xue Feng (呂雪鳳) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
Yang Ke Fan (楊可凡) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
Ge Lei (葛蕾) – Home (回家)
Esther Liu (劉品言) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)

Best Screenwriter/ Script – Drama – Presenters: Winnie Qu and Amber Kuo:
Xu Yu Ting, Wu Yi Ran, Xie Bing Xun, He Yao Xian, and Li Wan Rong (徐譽庭、吳怡然、謝秉勳、何曜先、李婉榕) – An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗)
Huang Shi Ming, Liu Wei Ci, Zeng Xian Zhang, and Liu Rui Xuan (黃世鳴、劉瑋慈、曾顯章、劉蕊瑄) – Home (回家)
Huang Yu Jia (黃雨佳) – End of Innocence (死了一個國中生之後)
Ye Dan Qing, Yan Yi Fan, Lin Jia Hui, and Xi Qin (葉丹青、顏一帆、林佳慧、楊靚姝、嬉勤) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
Wen Yu Fang (溫郁芳) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)

Best Director – Drama – Presenters: Winnie Qu and Amber Kuo:
Wang Ming Tai (王明台) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)
Lin Zi Ping (林子平) – Home (回家)
Zhang Jin Rong (張晉榮) – The Cursed Mere (陂塘) (Hakka TV)
Ye Tian Lun (葉天倫) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
You Zhi Wei, Gao Bing Quan, Guo Chun Hui, and Zhang Jia Xian (游智煒、高炳權、郭春暉、張佳賢) – The Late Night Shop (小站)

Best Leading Actress – Drama – Presenters: Tia Li and Puff Guo:
Ding Ye Tian (丁也恬) – My Summer Adventure (阿婆的夏令營) (Hakka TV)
Jade Chou (周幼婷) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)
Lin Chen Xi (林辰唏) – An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗)
Miao Ke Li (苗可麗) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)
Nikki Hsieh (謝欣穎) – Die Sterntaler (白色之戀) (CTV)

Best Leading Actor – Drama – Presenters: Chen Bo Lin and Sonia Sui:
Vic Chou (周渝民) – Home (回家)
Lin Jia Wei (林嘉瑋) – End of Innocence (死了一個國中生之後)
Morning Mo (莫子儀) – An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗)
Jag Huang (黃健瑋) – Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天)
Long Shao Hua (龍劭華) – Flavor of Life (含笑食堂)

Best Dramas – Presenters: Chen Bo Lin and Sonia Sui:
Home (回家) (CTS)
Falling (含苞欲墜的每一天) (PTS)
Flavor of Life (含笑食堂) (SETTV)
End of Innocence (死了一個國中生之後) (Hakka TV)
An Innocent Mistake (罪美麗) (TTV)

Wow! Congrats to all winners! It was fun to watch. But what I enjoyed was the unpredictable winners versus last year’s repetitive trends. I’m not acting like a sore loser about last year. But I felt this year have more variety with winners versus last year’s one take all so it was a bit boring on that front.

*All information were translated and verified by DTLCT.

Fan Fiction: When Plot Gets Changed

Okay, so since I couldn’t get my brain cells to work properly to finish some much needed to finish fanfics, I decided to roll out this activity where I confess about changing my mind and ideas get tossed around. I’m sure it happens to most writers.

NOTE: The following contains spoilers (obviously from the title), SO if you haven’t read my stories yet, DO NOT proceed.

+ Destiny + – At one point, I got so stuck on it that I ended up going the ‘morbid’ route for the middle parts of the story. That wasn’t supposed to happen since it was just a funny story in general.

Heaven’s Gift – Hebe’s twin was a last-minute addition yet I thought it was fun to include it.

Slanted Thoughts – Wallace replaced Ming Dao. I only wrote the first scene (aka the part where he was walking around monitoring his employees) before I replaced Ming Dao with Wallace so it wasn’t too much of a loss. Why did I replace Ming Dao though? I somehow fell out of the trance of ‘obsessing over Ming Dao’ so yeah, Mr. Huo once again returned to save the day, lol. What was more, Wallace/Ming Dao was supposed to end up with Angela and Nic with Cyndi. Then I got into somewhat a “Jindi” phase at one point hence breaking Nic and Cyndi apart. AND also because someone drove me bananas with kept implying that Nic couldn’t measure up to Cyndi (OR something like that) hence I broke them apart AND added Yvonne and Tammy, they ended up taking bigger roles. (NO one makes fun of Nic and gets away with it. I don’t care if you’re kidding, keep nagging about it and it would become SUPER annoying.) What about Wallace and Angela? I don’t know. I got into obsessing over Wallace and Yvonne at one point so I sacrificed Angela, lol.

Slanted Thoughts 2: Edge of Darkness – This part wasn’t supposed to happen. But I couldn’t resist when I finally added in Yvonne and Tammy for part 1.

Slicing Boundary – Cynthia wasn’t supposed to die.

The Dating Game – Ehlo was supposed to end up with Wei Ru BUT I was writing “When Wishes Come True” at the same time and even finished that before I went back to this hence changing the ending slightly the first time around. Also, some might have known, I changed the details regarding Ming Dao and Qiao Qiao. Scroll up and it’s there regarding how I got over Ming Dao already. (NOT to mention some fanbase were pissing me off with attacking Qiao Qiao.) Though the thing was I had planned it out with Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao ending up together if I hadn’t implemented the whole ‘voting’ activity when I first posted it on Winglin. Yet when I finally changed the ending again, I didn’t want to break Chen Yi and XXY up because I grew to like this new pairing as I write. Oh yeah, Ming Dao was supposed to end up with Bianca when I first write it. But again, the ‘voting’ thing so after that, I had to shuffle the pairings around. Angela was supposed to end up with Johnny or Wallace or stay single and be a career woman; that also meant if Johnny didn’t end up with Angela he would be single till the end but things totally changed as I wrote the story because my mood was obviously different at various points. Also, at one point, I remembered Ming Dao’s character in Angel Lover, Yang Tian You, said that he would introduce Bianca’s character, Li Xi Ai, to Johnny Yan so I went with that. The connection was easy to make around the time when the votes already locked in because I already paved out the detail with some characters reading the same book. Talking about Mr. Huo, he was either ending up with Angela or Cyndi. There was NO Penny when I put the list up, but someone had requested the “Wallace and Penny” pairing. I added it in and planned to see how fun it could get, but couldn’t make it happen. (Hey, I never promised it would happen so it wasn’t like I was going back on my words.) No Gino either but since I shuffled so had to pair Wei Ru with someone. (Since she did look quite cute with Gino in Smile Pasta.) Tony and Esther weren’t supposed to be together, I set their ages like that on purpose but again, the voting thing got in the way. It shows that it’s really unpredictable when there’s ‘voting’ involved. It was a fun experience for me and I learned I wasn’t cut out for it.

The Dating 2: A Whole New Game – I kind of fell out of the obsession with “Vincent and Alyssa” though they’re still one of my favorite pairings so Tang Feng came into the picture.

The Dating Game 3: Original Course – Jacky and Sonia weren’t supposed to break up. Same with Wallace and Cyndi. I just got bored. And there was the whole idea with me shifting toward James Wen and Sonia that made it convenient to change the plot, lol. Sorry if people were tearing their hairs out. It was just a happy accident that the title was “The Dating Game” in the first place SO I got away with shuffling around.

The Dating Game 4: Bridge of Hope – Tang Feng wasn’t supposed to die. I got bored. YES, I so could sympathize with TVB people now, LOL! I also got bored with Tony and Esther so yeah. But who knows? I might let them have a reunion later. NO guarantee though. Jiro was supposed to be “Josh”, but since I let Cyndi portray a not so likable character, I felt I couldn’t get away with making Jiro too stupid. SO yeah, I changed that part. And I felt like seeking revenge for Tang Feng when he was placed as the despicable, irresponsible older brother in HWG SO YES, I placed his so-called sister on the platter this time around. Nice?

The Other Extreme – Jacky wasn’t supposed to die, Cyndi and Sharon were. But I ended up twisted it around a bit. And at one point, I even thought of letting Jindi die together. But that felt like “Romeo & Juliet” formula SO I didn’t do that.

True Friendship – I initially wanted to write 3 endings and have a ‘voting’ activity with letting the readers decide in regard to who Xiao Qiao should end up with. But time changed things and I didn’t want to complicate things even more. The story, like “+Destiny+” ended up being placed aside for a while. It was just that I started posting it when I was almost done. Yet somehow, I was glad I was stuck and managed to steer the direction of the story a bit more. Because the ending was supposed to be Jacky proposing to Joanne and Derek proposing to Joyce at that same picnic, but on their own–until they join the group again and break the news. It felt so lame now. I rather have the current ending because life wasn’t just about focusing on the major characters. It was refreshing to me.

Wan Xin Bang – Though it’s no longer there in the links and all, I will bring it back in the future. This is the ancient version of “M.I.T./C.R.A.” and somehow I changed some cast and details. As I’m continuing on right now, I’m thinking of switching out some cast again.

Winds & Rain – It was supposed to be longer but I got stuck so I rolled it out as a short story anyway.

So, what are your changes?

NOTE: More will be added in the future

Mad Doctor Qin Mo

I didn’t realize that Zhao Jun Ya’s role in the drama was that big until I forced myself to go through with it. Actually, I didn’t watch like really watch straight from beginning to the latest episode, but it was more like skimming. I gave up on it since the first episode and there were just too many good dramas currently airing that it was too hard to catch up. So I decided to do some ‘skimming’ to see what was going on, wanting to find some motivation to perhaps watch it more ‘properly’. Anyway, while the majority were fighting over whether Jin Da Hua should be with her Guan Jun Ge or Terry, I was fawning over Qin Mo. It’s not because I dislike James or Chris, because I actually quite like both of them in some past dramas. It’s just that in recent years, my focus has majorly gone to Jun Ya. So to get back to the role Qin Mo, how was he?

Qin Mo was just like the post title said, he was a mad doctor. His daring nature overruled the typical logical and compassionate stereotypes of a doctor. Qin Mo actually reminded me of Dr. House with his craziness, but his attitude wasn’t terrible. It was just that he was willing to take risks. Not to mention his happy expression upon thinking of wild theories or wanting to face major challenges.

And I so know that he was drawing up a crazy plan to help Terry’s career, among other reasons. But just look at him when he was about to help Da Hua take off the bandages. In fact, he was so into the idea of his that he looked beyond overjoyed when they were carrying out the plan of finding a replacement for Liang Yan temporarily. He was like a mad scientist wanting to execute the latest project as soon as possible and see the result. It was no surprise that he was proud of his abilities so when Terry’s driver asked him to find a way to change Da Hua’s personality, he was upset that they didn’t appreciate his effort thus far, stating that he was only responsible for the appearance front, the other matter was all up to them.

While we’re on that subject, look at him when Terry confronted him about listening to him in the first place, finding a replacement for Liang Yan, etc. Qin Mo, who was remorseful toward his actions previously–about lying to Terry and keeping Terry in the dark regarding Liang Yan’s actual health condition, totally turned insane and said he had helped Terry secure his job. Then both guys just went ballistic from there, losing control altogether, laughing out like maniacs.

His relationship with Terry? Was it just good friends or much more? The reason why I’m even putting that on the table is because of what Chris said in episode 8’s BTS. Okay, not so much as said but more like the words flashing in front of him while he was sitting there talking about their scenes together, etc. Was he talking about Jun Ya’s role or Jun Ya? LOL! But still, something to think about.

Back to the serious side, I must agree with Chris when he said that Qin Mo is a role that is hard to act. And I’m not saying that because Chris had praised Jun Ya. But it was more like I wasn’t expecting much because of the amount of screen time Jun Ya had. I was glad to be wrong this time around because it proved that the amount of screen time does not equal to significance, not all the time. Sometimes a person appearing so little could have such a big impact with the overall picture. There was little time to show what kind of character Qin Mo was and what he had to bring into the overall story. Yet Jun Ya really brought out the role well. I’m actually quite proud of him. Though it might overlap with some of the previous roles I saw of him, but this one contained more complexity than that. There was the craziness with wanting to experiment and push the limits, making some medical history. But there was also a side of him that was willing to take the blame and show whatever support that he could. His point of view was different from Terry, thinking that Terry didn’t need to know and standing by helplessly if Terry had known about Liang Yan’s real condition; Terry, himself, rather be by her side and take care of her, be with her until the last moment. Yet that decision he made for Terry didn’t make him despicable. It was his way of protecting Terry, even if it had robbed Terry of the time spent with Liang Yan. Indeed, in the end, he realized he had made the wrong decision hence breaking down completely after Terry left the scene.

One of the questions I kept in mind while watching some upcoming scenes was: Was it Qin Mo’s fault that Du Liang Yan met with her accident? Many might be saying right now that if it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have a drama to see. Yet I really want to address it if it were to happen in real life. Was it his fault? Because he did put in a word for Liang Yan during their meeting that one time. Putting aside the fact that Jun Ya portrayed the role since I just said I want to visualize the situation if it were to happen in real life, I didn’t think it was his fault. Why not? That was just his opinion. He can’t predict the future. And the most important thing was Terry knew he was crazy, why find him to help talk Liang Yan out of it? I’m not putting the blame on Terry here since Terry was really cautious in wanting to protect Liang Yan, like always. I’m just saying how people’s opinions shouldn’t be the sole reason for what would somehow happen in the future, i.e. Qin Mo’s crazy, don’t take him seriously kind of thing, especially anything daring in nature. Though I will say that I knew his “crow’s mouth” was a hint that something would happen on that trip. (I’m referring to the part where Terry said what if something happened to Liang Yan and he said he would cure her.) The tragic incident that happened to Liang Yan was like unpredictable really, since people go travel and hiking all the time on mountains but it just so happened that Liang Yan got unlucky. I find it a bit unconvincing that she was fine walking toward the mountainside to watch the view yet couldn’t step back as safely? Well, that was why it was called an ‘accident’ in the first place. But it was like seriously? Turning and making her way back would turn into such a mess? (I blame the unconvincing plot, not the actors/actresses involved.)

And oh yeah, the final point that I want to talk about is the one I mentioned with the whole ‘small role yet big impact’. It was the crazy Qin Mo who suggested to Terry about seeking out a replacement for Liang Yan’s spot within a year (which was the deadline he made for himself to cure ‘Liang Yan’ or die trying). Again, if there was no such bizarre plan, there would be no drama. But honestly, that was crazy. Crazy but not out of character for a person like Qin Mo. He even freaked me out from time to time with his expressions whenever he mentioned his attempts to cure Liang Yan or anything medical related. Even when he was explaining to Liang Yan’s father that he had cooked up the plan in the first place and kept Terry in the dark during the initial process, his expression was turning ‘insane’ again as he went on to say how he would ‘cure Liang Yan’. One minute he wanted to defend his friend and explain away, and somewhat showing fear of Mr. Du. Yet the next minute he looked like a maniac as he went into further details of wanting to find a cure for Liang Yan. That was why I felt Jun Ya did very well bringing into this role. So little time yet so much could be learned of the character from his acting.

Notice, I’m not using the whole ‘small role, big impact’ excuse to make Jun Ya shine and sink the other characters. Of the skimming that I did, I found that James and Chris did very well in their characters, even Nikki impressed me with her double roles. But this post is solely dedicated to Jun Ya so that’s why I only focus on his character as Qin Mo.

To think that I was saying how I was fawning over Qin Mo yet I haven’t really tied it back together. It’s not just because of Jun Ya portraying the role. Like I said before, it had to do with the fact that Qin Mo was such a complex character. He was like bordering on good versus evil. It was so hard to hate him yet so not easy to relate to either. Not totally. If it wasn’t for the focus on the triangles and many other formulas coming into play, the character Qin Mo had great potential for some expansion of screen time. Yet I wonder if that would end up ruining his mysterious aura altogether. So not to be so greedy, I decided to settle on the fact that he had a great contribution to the drama itself.

I don’t know how long this drama would be, but will Qin Mo appear again? If so, I’ll probably find some more random stuff to talk about him.

*All images were captured by DTLCT